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Croxley Green welcome sign.

Picture by Foshie: Welcome to Croxley Green

There are, Derrick calculates, four types of people: the malevolent, the oblivious, the neurotic and the amazing. To tell which category a person falls into, simply observe his or her behaviour at a zebra crossing.

(There’s only one zebra crossing in Croxley, down Watford Road by the garage; Derrick therefore has to wait a week after formulating his theory before he can bring it up in casual conversation.)

“So Evan,” he says when the opportunity finally arises, “is malevolent.”

It’s true that Evan is pleased when cars have to stop to let him pass. “I don’t think,” he says, “that actually counts as malevolent. And most of the drivers should be catching the bus anyway.”

“Whereas Martha,” Derrick continues, “is oblivious.” Martha barely notices the cars, and never considers them as autonomous entities.

“What, and you think they’re considering us as autonomous entities?” she says. “It’s traffic. It’s laws. That’s how it works. It’s the social contract, Derrick. Pay your taxes and obey the road rules.”

“And Carrie,” Derrick says. Carrie glances at him. “What,” she says. She hates Croxley’s single zebra crossing; walks past pretending she doesn’t need to get to the other side, then ducks across during a natural lull. She has a casual saunter that says “I’m totally walking up this way a bit further, don’t think about stopping for me,” and a confused frown and half-turn that says “I’m a bit lost and still making up my mind, carry on please,” both of which she deploys with expert judgement.

“You know that’s not normal, right?” Derrick says.

“It’s a type of normal,” she says. “One of four, someone told me.”

“Which brings us,” Derrick says, “to the fourth type: the amazing. More specifically, the ones with really big pogo sticks.”

“I don’t think you can call it a whole type,” Martha says, “if there’s only one of you.”

Derrick raises his eyebrows, then crosses the road in a single wide bound. Children poke heads from back windows of passing cars, astonished. “Give it another few years,” he calls back towards his friends on the opposite footpath. “There’ll be more.”

Evan opens his mouth to shout a reply, but Derrick’s already bouncing out of range, so he phones instead. “How about,” he says when Derrick answers (they see him bouncing one-handed ahead), “the ones who,” and he looks up to Martha and Carrie. “Snappy insult anyone?” he says.

“The ones who are massive wankers?” Martha says.

“The ones whose visions of the twenty-first century crystallised in 1986,” Carrie says, “but who can’t afford a jetpack.”

Evan frowns. “How about,” he says, “the ones who are about to get stuck in a tree,” but Derrick swerves and avoids poetic justice one more time.

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