Today got under-way with an earlyish start and a car ride to Bedford for a pre-work run along one of my normal routes, it is however a normal summer route as about 2 miles is alongside the river and can be a little damp in the winter months. I reasoned that the snow and ice would have sufficiently hardened the ground and made it passable at this time of year.
Before the serious running starts, I have to escape from the urban dross in Bedford town centre. My route takes me along Prebend Street, which I would politely refer to as a ‘run down’ area. After a left turn, I’m into Midland Road, another road suffering from a little neglect but more up-beat as you can buy pretty much anything there (drugs, guns, broccoli, sellotape or whatever else you might need) before Ashburnham Road (getting better) and onto Bromham Road (phew, nearly clear of the ghetto).
Anyway turning onto Midland Road this morning I was met with a rather strange sight, not a gun weilding yardie as you might expect, but a middle aged man walking down the pavement towards me. Normally this wouldn’t come as a shock, Midland Road is a pretty lively area at seven in the morning as people head to the train station or make their way home from the night before. However, the aforementioned slightly robust gentleman was, but all accounts, stark bollock naked. He wasn’t wearing a single thing, no shoes, no socks, not even a hat!! Plus it was bloody cold! My first reaction was to laugh, followed by a mild panic (what is he was/is a serial killer?). What should I do? Without much time to think, I did the very English thing, smile and carry on as normal. Luckily, for the general public and the naked man, a police car was parked about twenty yards down the road. I imagine the chap is now fully clothed and either sitting in a police station cell or experiencing the unique facilities at Bedford Hospital’s Weller Wing (secure care for those with mental health issues). Another bloke stopped me further up the road and enquired as to whether I had noticed the bloke, who about five seconds previously, passed by within about 5 yards, wearing no clothes!!! I replied without much thought, ‘erm, yeah, I bet he’s a bit cold’ and off I ran. In retrospect, I should have said, ‘nah, didn’t see anything unusual’.
Continuing with my run, I struggled to shake the image of the naked man. Initially I thought it a bit comical, but on reflection I started to feel some compassion for the guy. Based on my huge assumption of the situation, I can only imagine what was going on inside his head, hopefully he is receiving some support and will come charging out the other side. He might even get some clothes and take up running.