Saturday, 26 March 2016


Spring in England always carries with it the kind of mixed messages carried by harbingers who are slightly unsure of what they are supposed to be carrying. A lovely sunny day can easily be followed by the grey wet which has preceded it, pulling the springtime rug straight out from under the psyche desperate to jump onto it after a grey dull winter. There are no magic carpet rides in the British spring.

This year especially, I will have an Easter to remember. Bad news comes in threes, and the past month has seen me have an ear operation to remove a basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer), an interior job which is very slow to heal as it is on the inside of the ear. Then food poisoning. Then le comble as the french say, the finger incident. 

Riding home on the Tube, straphanging as one does on the newer carriages, the driver hit the brakes just after leaving Sloane Square. My left finger got caught in the strap as I hurtled to the floor, knocked off balance by the twisting of the strap and the suitcase on the floor next to me. The finger stayed behind. Snap.

I fell down, and one gentleman helped me up and offered me his seat. Are you alright? he said. No, I broke my finger I said, and held up my hand for him (and the rest of the carriage) to see. Gasps and horrified looks. But mostly averted gazes.

A nice gentleman next to me said quietly:the closest hospital is Chelsea and Westminster. I stumbled off the train at South Ken, crossed the street to hail a cab (but not before a young girl scuttled across the road to nab the one I was heading for). I found the next one in the rank, and showed him my finger. Ouch, he said, and carried on a sympathetic conversation. 

My finger was dislocated and fractured in three places (those with a nervous disposition should look away now).

The NHS rocks. After an hour wait, I got a very competent and friendly doctor (Kate MacEwan, like the lager she said although she is a Mac and not a Mc).After diagnosis and  X-rays, the Filipino med assistant cut off my wedding ring. 20 seconds of nitrous oxide, and Kate pulled the finger back into place. The whole process took about four hours. Now I have to go next Tuesday to a specialist to see if they need to put pins in.

The point is not the rich vein of bad luck I seem to have tapped into, but the reminder that the body is a very complex and fragile instrument, and that despite whatever happens, you will figure out a way to cope, and there are a hell of a lot of other people worse off who should be remembered at Easter. But in this faux spring as the water drips down on what should be a nice Easter Saturday, this will be an Easter which I will remember. And do take care riding on those new trains. Those straps can be lethal (think of a hangman's noose which closes around you).