Plop! That’s the sound my keys made as they succumbed to the Thames. There I was minding my own business, feet planted over the edge of Waterloo Bridge contemplating the end of my life. Wondering ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’ When suddenly my collection of keys thoughtlessly jumped in first. It was Derek’s fault of course. It always was. Derek was a red Supreme Dalek, the keyring leader, the duplicitous custodian of my keys.
This unexpected fall interrupted my troubled repose with the interjection of an onomatopoeia. Four simple letters, punctuated by an exclamation mark. And in that instance the whole world became one big, deafening, nauseating, onomatopoeic whirlwind. The cars honked and made the dogs woof, people chattered as the buses rumbled past, some people guffawed as Big Ben bonged behind me.
I looked down just in time to see Derek reach out in a final apologetic gesture of reconciliation. He extended his minuscule plunger in a motion that stretched beyond Waterloo bridge, past Blackfrairs and out into the wide expanse of space and time, an eternal act of immeasurable regret. In his sad voice, sounding like a faulty, inebriated stylophone, he said: ‘Save me, doctooooooor’ before he gurgled and disappeared into the murky water.
Daleks are a naturally devious and self-centered race. Created for no other purpose than to destroy by whatever means necessary. Devoid of all emotion apart from hate. They revel in revulsion. And standing there, as a jet plane wooshed past, I questioned the intentions of this dying, electronic cry for help.
Three years ago, on the eve of our AGM, Derek told me to place photoshopped images into the sales presentation, images of our boss as a mankini-clad, moustachioed Borat lying suggestively across the pie charts.
‘Trust me, doctooooooor’ he said when I told him Gary might not see the funny side.
Derek turned to me the next day as I threw him into a box along with the rest of my desk and said: ‘Shouldn’t have done that, doctooooooor.’ One time in a pub, Derek indicated that the hard-knock at the bar would really appreciate some ready salted nuts launched at his bullseye-tattooed head. As I sat on the pavement nursing a fractured jaw and several broken ribs, he rolled his eye and said: ‘Dumb move, doctooooooor.’ For my ex-father-in-law’s fiftieth, Derek suggested we spray paint his 1985 Porsche 911 bright fuchsia as a surprise present. When I signed the divorce papers he looked up from the desk and said: ‘Way to screw up, doctooooooor.’ But after he convinced me to highlight and perm my hair and squeeze into red leather trousers for a disastrous date with Sally Atkins from Finance, he was surprisingly speechless.
So, as you can see Derek has let me down over and over. He has been the Iago to my Othello, the Saruman to my Gandalf, the Gove to my Johnson. Always reliably there to ensure things go wrong when things are going right. I considered leaving him to his watery fate and go on with my weary life in an act of defiance.
But whatever Derek did, it was selfish to let the keys drown with him. The trusty, golden Yale had done nothing wrong, it fulfilled its purpose dutifully day after day. Never hesitating as it unlocked the front door with authority, always knowing which way was up and which way to turn. And the modest, silvery mortice would be mortified, it was never afraid to open the back door in the dark when needed, ever willing to poke its skeletal head into that keyhole full of spiders and accomplish its duty with a satisfying click.
The November rain went pitter-patter and a storm rumbled over St. Pauls as the dogs barked to the nee-nah of an approaching police siren. Some people gasped as my trouser went rip when the cuff got caught on a part of Waterloo bridge. Part of the leg of my Italian business suit remained on the bridge and watched as I went plop into the murky Thames just as a boat sloshed past.
As I descended into that murky silence, everything became clear. The clouds parted, bathing this eerie, subaqueous world in surprising beauty. In that calmness I floated and watched a pair of translucent prophylactics dance together. Floating in my mid-life crisis, transfixed as these tubular, latex swimmers synchronised themselves in fluid motion. I saw rejected mannequins with green algae lipstick talking to each other, although they didn’t talk to me. And on the floor of that silent, ancient river I came across a battered Celtic shield, several unexploded World War II bombs, and a rusted Roman dagger, and there lounging indifferently among these emblems of destruction and conflict was my trusted one-eyed betrayer.
I grabbed him quickly and left this strange world behind. The mannequins said ‘cheerio’ and prophylactics waved bye-bye. I went splash as the rescue service pulled me out, and spluttered as the foul tasting water vacated my mouth. And there in the boat, as the rain pitter-pattered and Big Ben bonged, the truth went bing!
I looked at Derek slouching nonchalantly in my hand. As troublesome as he was, as devious as he could be, we both needed each other. Without the other we had no purpose, no destiny. Just as Hamlet needed Claudius, Frodo needed Sauron, Harry Potter needed Voldemort, just as Ant needed Dec, Derek and I needed each other. It took a dive into these clear, murky waters full of dancing prophylactics and talking mannequins for us to realise that. I looked down at his small, red frame, smiled and said: ‘I love you buddy.’
He reached out his Lilliputian toilet plunger and in that familiar metallic rasp said: ‘screw you, doctooooooor.’