Monday, 25 May 2009

Ghost bikes - a postscript

Driving home earlier this month, I passed a knot of people standing around the Clissold Park 'ghost bike', which regularly has flowers fixed to the railings. Family and friends had gathered to mark the tenth anniversary of the death. The victim was sixteen-year old Thomas Love, killed by a joyrider with five passengers in a stolen car travelling up Green Lanes at over 70 mph. May 1999. The coincidence of place and time struck home. At least one of the passengers in the car had also been killed, I realised. May 1999 was just months before I left a part-time post teaching excluded teenagers with 'educational and behavioural difficulties' in Islington. One of the passengers must have been SD, a troubled youth who I'd worked closely with for several terms, with a disturbed family background and a habit of running away from home into even the greater dangers of a local paedophile network. He'd been accommodated out of the borough for a couple of years and I'd lost track of him until one morning in 1999 I overheard the other kids describing a fatal accident involving a stolen car on Green Lanes and heard SD's name. I'd seen the mangled railings without realising the connection. I'd seen flowers from the victim's grieving mother, brother and friends twice a year without realising either. A dark story and at least two tragedies.

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