They say that when you’re about to die, your life explodes before your eyes in a series of pictures – like scrolling through a photo album on Google Glass. Or else you’re visited by a long-deceased relative, who appears as a comforting apparition, smoky and translucent, reaching towards you with desperate, vaporous fingers. And I’ve also heard that you get to look at yourself from above, as if you were a bird or an angel, before traversing a great glowing cylindrical corridor, with a pinprick of oblivion flashing at its centre.
Terrifying stuff, which, I’ve discovered, is utter bollocks.
I had a near-death experience last week at Stratford station, and it was nothing like what they tell you.
There I was, boarding the tube, with a banana in my gob and an iPhone between my fingers, replying to a text message, when out of nowhere I slipped down the gap between the platform and the train.
I had matter of seconds to wrench myself out of the gap before the train pulled away and tore me to my death.
I stared the grim reaper right in the eye, paralysed with the banal absurdity of my finale – but there was no side-show of memories, no benevolent ghostly relatives, no bird’s-eye-view of London to ease me into the darkness. Awareness of my imminent death simply gave way to a pang of regret, and a single precise thought, that rang with the clarity Prophets claim they hear in the voice of God: ‘Fuck this!’ My thought went, ‘you haven’t seen Frozen yet.’
And because I didn’t want to die with that kind of regret looming over me, I was seized by a surge of super-human energy, which propelled me out of the gap and back onto the platform; back into the land of the living.
It was a surprise that I was this shallow, of course. But then isn’t near-death designed to teach us important things about ourselves and others? That’s why deathbeds are fertile grounds for scandal. For example, my great-grandmother – a stern, sullen, tree of a woman who said little but always had a fag hanging from the corner of her mouth, with a long tapering build-up of ash threatening to fall off into her lap – sat up on hers and looked into the middle distance, ‘Freddie! At last!’ She rasped, ‘We’ll take our secret to the grave!’ And then she dropped dead; leaving us all to ponder who Freddie was, and whether that secret involved incest.
There’ll be no such revelations on my deathbed – and not just because I’ve shared all my secrets here, on the internet, with strangers like you. It turns out my waters don’t run deep enough for terrible secrets. They stop at Disney movies and swearing.
Frozen, it turns out, has a pretty baffling plot revolving around a princess, Elsa (later the Queen), who, for reasons to which we are not privy, has magical powers that allow her to freeze stuff and conjure up humorous, fat little snowmen. Although her magic is great fun at first, she soon becomes careless, accidentally freezes her sister’s brain during a late night snow-jam and becomes so terrified of her great and terrible powers that she locks herself inside her room, alone, for many years.
I won’t ruin the ending, but suffice to say there’s bare massive drama, before she comes out of hiding, saves the day and all is well by the time the closing credits roll.
The movie is a fable about embracing your quirks and learning to love and be loved in spite of them. I could relate to that message, and to many of Elsa’s less admirable personality traits. I have been known, for example, to spend long periods of time in my bedroom, and I once nearly killed my brother with my own divine powers (spite and reckless curiosity).
Do you see where I’m going with this? (Bonus points if you do, babe, because I’m not 100% sure yet).
My sudden urge to watch the movie, as I flayed, trapped against the tube-train and the hard, unyielding platform, might have been a divine intervention from God. ‘Let it go,’ God was possibly saying, ‘you can’t hate all the people for the rest of your life. You can’t isolate yourself from the world and the good men who live in it. You have to get a grip and learn to love again, despite the fact you’ve got problems.’
But if that was God’s Divine Plan, then He has proper screwed up. Because the princess was far more interesting when she was locked away in her castle, dismissing friendly advances from strangers and family members, than she was when she came home and started caring.
There is a reason why the most iconic scene of that movie involves Queen Elsa summoning a raging storm and telling everyone to go fuck themselves. Solitude with an undercurrent of anger is the hero’s way. Romance, as the Queen’s drippy little sister demonstrates, is for losers.
So sorry, God. Sorry Divine Powers who spoke to me as I straddled the precipice between this life and the next. You can’t change my mind with Disney Movies. The cold never bothered me anyway.
*I stole the image, above, off the internet. Don’t bother suing, TFL – you’ve caused me enough stress, as you’ll hopefully have gleaned from the above.