The Day That Did Not Go as Planned
The phone rang at 7:30 this morning. This is my idea of an ungodly hour even on Sundays, when I drag myself groaning out of bed at 8 for service ring at 8:45. In theory I have the upstairs phone unplugged because I do not want to be disturbed by people who lead normal sorts of lives and keep normal sorts of hours. In practise I can hear the downstairs phone perfectly clearly and the more ungodly the hour the faster I answer it. I can get the flex jammed back into its connection while my eyes are still glued shut.
Sorry to trouble you, said Peter’s voice in his best I’m-fine-really tone, but I’ve just fallen down and bashed the back of my head against the bath, and there’s rather a lot of blood. Can you come?
This was—just by the way—the second fall in less than two days. Yesterday afternoon Peter had been hanging a picture I had unearthed at Third House and brought down to the mews . . . and there was this loud thud in the hall and a faint, startled moan . . . and I leaped over the kitchen table and wrenched open the door, and there was Peter, lying on the carpet. Other than the actual falling down part, he seemed unhurt.
Today . . . there was rather a lot of blood, trailing thrillingly all over the (dry) bath.* I’ll never feel the same about raspberry coulis.** I’m taking you to A&E***, I said.
No, said Peter. I’m fine. But thanks for coming down.
You are not fine, I said, having checked for things like pupils the same size and eyes tracking together. He’s already demonstrated that he can speak in complete sentences, he’s got his dressing-gown on right-side-up and is walking around. —The back of your head looks like someone hit it with a hammer.
I’m fine, said Peter. It’s just a graze. Here, feel it.
I am not touching anything, I said. I know sod-all about concussion, but I do know that scalp wounds bleed like the levee breaking, and there’s a bathtub in the vicinity that supports this view. I am taking you to A&E.†
We compromised. Peter rang the out-of-office-hours emergency-doctor service—the one I got quite chummy with last spring—who of course immediately said, tell your wife to bring you in to A&E. I want my breakfast, said Peter, sullenly: you do not get between this man and his three and a half square meals a day. So we compromised again. I took very alarmed hellhounds†† for a quick placatory hurtle while Peter had breakfast.††† I then bundled still very alarmed but no longer suffering internal urgencies hellhounds back to the cottage, and Peter and I set out for A&E.‡
. . . Where they told us it would be at least two hours—Sunday morning after Saturday night, what can I tell you, although there were a lot of little kids who probably hadn’t been in bar brawls—and Peter sent me home. ‡‡ Hellhounds were not the least bit deflected/propitiated by a second abridged walk by a clearly distracted hellgoddess, but at least it lowered my guilt level somewhat—and when I drove back to the hospital, there was Peter sitting on a wall in the sunshine, dubiously pressing buttons on his mobile and failing to make Pooka ring, to tell me to come fetch him.
Peter is officially fine. They didn’t even put in any stitches. But he’s about as sore as you’d expect, if you were 83 and had had two heavy falls in less than two days, and he’s written a letter to his doctor that I put through the clinic door on our afternoon hurtle, and his doctor is pretty good about making contact.‡‡‡ Falling down has already got old, and we would like some alternatives.
Meanwhile, I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I go to bed early. Gods help me, I’m supposed to have a voice lesson tomorrow. . . .
* * *
* When we were first married, we used to shout, We be of one blood, thou and I! a lot. —Speaking of blood. But tripping over your own feet and into an empty bathtub is the sort of thing Peter and I do. No, I only got a few bruises, last time I tried it.
** And I’ve never liked the modern art approach to culinary performance anyway.
† Let me tell you about living in a country with a national health service. There are several crucial aspects to arguments with one’s bleeding spouse when you live in a country with a national health service, to wit:
- It exists.
- It exists.
- It exists.
- One’s obstinate ratbag of a bleeding spouse cannot put forward the argument that you cannot afford to go to a doctor.
- One can, however, put forward the argument that if the bleeding spouse doesn’t come quietly to A&E, one will ring for an ambulance. 83-year-old man had a fall in the bath, blood everywhere? I could have an ambulance here in minutes. ^
- It exists. Did I mention that it EXISTS?
^ Probably. But response rate is pretty good in this area.
†† Dogs are funny. Warning: too much information follows. I’ve had about six cups of tea today, partly because I’m badly short of sleep^, partly in response to the horrible grey aftermath of a major adrenaline spike, and partly out of anxiety, something-to-do-with-my-hands, comfortable-familiar-ritual . . . and I wonder why I twitch at small noises . . . and as a result I’m peeing about every five minutes. Every time I get out of my chair to go have another pee . . . hellhounds bounce out of their bed and follow me. They know something’s up and they’re sure it’s not a good thing. They’re right, of course.
^ There was the little matter of lying in the (full) bath to read another chapter last night
††† Peter also phoned his second cousin once removed and apologised for not coming to the party. And I phoned Niall and said I wasn’t going to make service ring.
‡ You better believe the Mobile Knitting Unit came with me. When things calm down a little I will have to introduce you to the new range of Mobile Knitting Units. A Unit for Every Mobility! —I also brought four books.^ And Pooka, of course, although the intricacies of learning a new handbell method were wildly beyond me today.^^
^ . . . waiting for the iPad 2 to be released in the UK . . . waiting . . .
^^ It’s been a very good day for knitting. I knew I wanted a nice friendly obsession that you can do sitting down in the warm and brain dead, if you’re careful about your choice of enterprise. I can just about slash off a hellhound blanket square these days without—er—very noticeable error. Don’t ask me about the error rate of Secret Project #1. Siiiiigh.
‡‡ He tried to tell me he’d take the bus home whereupon I threatened not to leave in the first place. Marriage. The art of compromise.
‡‡‡ If he fails in this case I will hunt him down and suck the marrow out of his bones.
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