1. London Bridge is Falling Down
Andrew, from the East End grew up with aspirations for the arts. Of mixed Asian parentage, his prospects seemed from the start doomed to a life in the professional services; doctor, lawyer, accountant. In this regard, he wasn’t too different from his friend, Raja who, unlike him, walks with pride down Middle Temple Lane, defending the guilty. He wasn’t Raja. Despite vigorous opposition from his Tiger mother, he had landed himself an opening night performance at the East End. And thus, across the bridge he made his way, every step further from home, a symbolic shedding of the cultural shackles of his birth. His mother would understand, her son in the papers tomorrow would be all the explanation needed. Life had just begun.
2. Falling Down
Raja. Privileged. Educated. From a background conducive to all that makes him today, a successful barrister at the Bailey, respected by both sides of the bar table and across from the bench. Raja’s defence in Michael’s murder trial was impeccable; nothing but deft cuts and strikes across the fabric that was the prosecution’s case, dispelling all doubt of Michael’s guilt in the (alleged) murder of his wife. Truth and lies in the criminal courtroom came down to statutorily defined rules of admissibility, dough in his hands. The flash of cameras at the close of the trial on a crisp spring afternoon was to give way to the lights of the East End, made all the more dramatic against the darkening skies. What better way to celebrate a triumph than with the triumph of his friend, Andrew, himself a dramatist of a different stripe, yet entwined in substance. Despite the remnant gusts of winter’s breath, he shod his scarf and coat as he made his way across the bridge. Today among the innumerable good days, he knew, was only to get better.
3. Falling Down
Michael. Yes, he did it. Guilty as charged. It was her fault, wasn’t it? Consorting with another man – “What was I supposed to do?”. “We were in a loveless marriage, but she was mine, and so I took her back from him”. Yet here he was, making his way across London Bridge, breathing the same air as that of the free men. Here he made his way, ostensibly free, yet the weight on his shoulders caused his feet to drag. He paused to look across the water at the Tower of London, dark and foreboding against an ominous swirl of clouds stirred by the bitter remnants of winter to jagged peaks. To the Tower went his thoughts, yet they were of a longing than a cold shiver of the fate which he had avoided through, what he bitterly reflected upon was trickery. As Raskolnikov had frequently done in Communist St. Petersburg of Dostoevsky’s imaginings, he hugged his coat closer to his body, the air of freedom around him as sharp as needles pricking his exposed skin. He was not supposed to be here, yet here he remained, in a prison built of walls more insurmountable than those surrounding Brixton prison. The terrible demands of conscience would stay with him so long as he lived this lie of a man deserving a life outside of the Tower’s walls.
4. London Bridge is Falling Down
Charlie. His Facebook status will have to be changed to “single” now, he thought. That that idea occurred to him at all was absurd in the extreme. Yet it was that very incongruity that had attracted her so, and in her acknowledgement and acceptance of that in him, him to her. They could not have been more different, yet they could have not been more similar. At the periphery of his mind, he contemplated his moral responsibility in the murder, of simple cause and effect to the more far reaching issues of nature and nurture. Think as he would of the what ifs, he did not see it as at all possible that he would not be here, now, struggling with the slow realization that he had condemned his lover to her death; the cruel hand of fate. The hollow left by her passing would find no plug, he knew, and life as he knew it was at an end. So he lingered then on the merciful distraction of a status update on Facebook as he made his way home, across London Bridge and dreaded the time he would awake from his absurdity.
5. My Fair Lady
Everyone. Andrew. Raja. Michael. Raja. Charlie. Their lives cut short in a blink and ushered off this coil by the otherworldly orchestra of steel cables successively tearing loose from the bridge, making that hollow whopping sound as they, unburdened, whipped the air. Dead at the bottom of the Thames lay everyone, crushed by cars and concrete.
Depending on who asks, this is a happy ending.