The political world may be in free fall but so was I, for a brief moment last week, and here’s something I learned in the process.
Last Wednesday night, when leaving the Orange Prize Party at the Royal Festival Hall. I tripped and fell, taking almost the entire impact on my chin and jaw. ( For this we cannot blame the free Tattinger champagne at the event, of which I had but a glass and a half, but more likely the accoutrements of girly party wear, including higher heels than I would normally wear – about two and a half inches – and a clutch bag, which probably prevented me breaking my fall with my hands.)
I remember very clearly my thoughts as I was about to hit the pavement; God, this is it, the end of relative health and well being; this is going to be the undoing of me. etc etc. Dramatic undoubtedly but I knew already that this was more than an ordinary, embarassing tumble. The jarring was tremendous, the blood quite shocking – to me, at any rate. Then, there were the tell tale concerned and curious expressions on the faces of the small ring of passer-bys, the presence of the police ( whose combined age must have been about forty four, and who rather sweetly started trying to staunch the flow of blood with packets of wet wipes, like a primary school nurse, worried presumably about the risk of possibly infected blood swishing about a public space.)
But the heroes of the hour, apart from fellow writer and friend Gillian Slovo, a rock of authority and caring in my hour of need, were the two paramedics in the ambulance that arrived only a few minutes later. Even in my rather dazed and emotional state, I couldn’t help speculating on the array of shocking scenes they must routinely attend and feeling relieved for them that I wasn’t seriously injured or maimed. ( Yes, I’m a woman!)
They were efficient, funny, friendly. No, they didn’t think my jaw was broken but if it was, it would soon manifest itself, and I might as well go wait at home as sit in hospital poring over the tell tale signs; my blood pressure and pulse were fine. When they cleaned and dressed my wounds they spoke gently of ‘holes and grazes’ in my chin rather than anything more alarming.
Finally, they told me to go away and take some time off work, to which I replied, ‘Oh well, I’ve got an article to write’.
‘For what paper?’ asked the charming male para medic with rock star looks but the steady unself centred gaze of an involved citizen.
‘Good. Because if you wrote for some of the right wing tabloids, we might have a problem.’ he said jokingly, adding more seriously that they were very unhappy about what these papers said about the NHS.
‘ Don’t worry. You are dealing with a woman who believes in the NHS! ‘ said Gillian Slovo, with only a touch of teasing irony, at my expense.
And so I do, with yet more personal evidence ( see earlier blog) of how well it can work.
( And no, my jaw is not broken, thanks for asking.)
( And Gillian Slovo has just sent me an e-mail to say she passed The Spot Where It Happened last night and that the pavement at that point is seriously rocky and uneven and it was probably nothing to do with my heels after all. Now, if I was more litigious………..)