23:09, 27th July 2012
Hyde Park, London, England, Sol III
"Did you see that Irish boxer go? Man, that guy can pack a punch. I counted at least four teeth on the floor. Mind you, these events are nowhere near as violent as they used to be! Back in the day, there was a brilliant event called the 'pankration', this barmy mix of wrestling and boxing. The match went on until one of the guys surrendered. And then of course there was the whole chariot racing fiasco, and don't even get me started on . . ."
"A bit late for that," I mutter bemusedly.
We're walking through the criss-crossing pathways of Hyde Park, beneath inky skies blooming with fireworks. There's hardly anyone around at this time of night, just the occasional couple snogging on a bench or tribe of shrieking youths.
With anyone else, I'd be scared to walk through here at night. Not with the Doctor though. There's something about the warmth of his fingers in mine, his inexorable and brilliant chatterings, his very presence, that makes me calm. No, more than calm; just being with him makes me happy. Happier than I ever was, ever could have been before all this. It seems a million years ago that I was there, a life of Mum and chips and buses and Mickey. Then the Doctor came along. And look at me now. Look what I've become. Are you watching me, Dad? Can you see me now?
". . . and then he was like, 'Oi, that's my horse', trying to steal Arthur just so he could win the chariot race and I was like 'Get your own royal horse from the 18th Century courts of Versailles!' and he was not happy about that . . ."
I look up at him, and try not to notice how my heart does a little skip. He's grinning at me through his chatter, gesticulating wildly with his free hand, while the other remains comforting and warm and there in mine.
You'd think after all the times I've come close to losing him, it would get easier. You'd think that when he disappeared from behind me as we walked from the TARDIS, that my heart wouldn't thunder so loud I couldn't hear myself think, that my mind wouldn't be whizzing so fast that nothing makes sense, that I'd be able to think of anything other than that he's gone, he's gone, he's gone.
Well, you'd be wrong.
" . . . and then I said 'Look, mate, I don't care if you're the ruler of the entire Roman Empire, that's my javelin!' and then he started yelling for his soldiers, making a right fuss, so I legged it quick sticks . . ."
These are my favourite times. When we've finished saving the world again and we're walking hand in hand and I'm just listening to the sound of his voice.
It's a very nice voice, after all.
" . . . so I tried sonic-ing the cell door, but then I remembered it doesn't do wood, and then I realised I could that lock-picker that Houdini gave me . . ."
We're not far from the TARDIS now, nearing the outskirts of the park. I wonder where the Doctor will take us next. I really should go back to visit Mum soon, but maybe we'll take a quick detour. I'm sure he said something about Shakespeare at some point, but maybe -
There's something up ahead. Something I don't recognise, which is weird because I know Hyde Park like the back of my hand. Or at least the Hyde Park of 2006. . .
It looks like some kind of monument to me. Spotlights shine on it, illuminating black marble engraved with silver writing. It's really tall, at least fifteen foot or something. There are flowers, too, a lot of flowers, considering it doesn't look that new. Something awful must have happened since I last came to London.
I glance up at the Doctor, but he's still in full swing of his story. I give him a smile and a nod and a "Right," to keep him happy. Not that he needs it . . .
We're close enough now that I can read the writing that covers the monument. At the base there is a silver plaque with words engraved on it, words that make no sense to me:
"The Battle of Canary Wharf.
For all those lost on 23.03.06.
Taken from us then. Remembered forever."
It's then that I realise that the writing covering the monument itself is names. Just hundreds of them, covering every inch of the memorial. So many people . . . dead. All of them, lost in this battle. That must have been quite something.
We're passing by now, but I can't get over how many names there are, how many people were killed. My eyes sting as they roam around the monument;
Rachel Archer . . . Thomas Mason . . . Daniel Weller . . . Adeola Oshodi . . . Janie Grant . . .
What a tragedy. I mean, all these people had families and jobs and –
My stomach gives a great lurch and I stop walking suddenly.
"Rose? You alright?" the Doctor says but he sounds weirdly far away from me.
I can't tear my eyes away from the monument, from a particular name that has my heart thudding like crazy. A name I know extremely well.
Thank you for reading! Please feel free to let me know what you think.