It's Tuesday. Princess RRD has swimming on a Tuesday evening. It's my job to take her the 20 minutes to swimming, come back, wait about half an hour at home, and then go and collect her. I enjoy the time we spend together on those journeys. I just wish that the Blackberry had never been invented, so that we could have more time to chat. Still, it's good she has such an active social life.
On my way back, the traffic near home is a little busier than usual. I see some blue lights behind me - the other side of the road is clear, so I know he will have no problems getting past, even though some idiots are trying to overtake everyone sitting in the traffic jam, just because they are turning right in half a mile!
It's one of the local First Response Units. How I don't envy them their job. The thought of turning up first anywhere, then knowing that, once you are there the clock has stopped for the Ambulance Service and you might be there on your own for an hour or so fills me with dread.
I see a bus up ahead. The FRU drives past, then stops. Oh ok, I can guess the scenario: unwell woman on bus. As I approach, I can see that the paramedic is still kneeling on the road in front of bus. Change of scenario: woman hit by bus. I pull over, hit the rear blues, and jump out, rushing to the boot to don the tango suit.
It's Mabel. All the local crews know Mabel. Even I've met Mabel at my hospital, some miles up the road. She's, not to put too fine a point on it, the local drunk. Well, one of them, to be precise. The FRU who is here today tells me he usually gets called out to Mabel at least once a week, suffering with collapse. There's never much wrong with her, and she usually gets on her way as soon as the team arrive. Not today, though.
The pool of blood around her head where she lies corroborates the information provided by the shattered windscreen: today, Mabel has been hit by the bus, and has a head injury. How much of a head injury is yet to be seen.
Mabel opens her eyes when I call her name. She tells me, in a slurred voice, that she is just having a rest, and why don't we all F*** Off! Mabel is renowned for her careful choice of words, le mot juste. I lean in to take a look at her pupils, and sense the heady aroma of Mabel's favourite perfume: Eau de Pub.
I look around: we are on a main shopping street. The world and his wife, their children, the Au Pair and the next door neighbour have all gathered to watch. One woman, complete with shopping bags, nudges me a little, to move me out of her way, so that she can get a better view. I remind people that if they want some street theatre, Covent Garden is a short train ride away, but they remain glued to the scene. I ask a couple of police officers to prevent me from committing a criminal act on the closest individuals, and they hastily set up a cordon around us, to give Mabel some privacy. The only two who are left are the two who kindly stopped and helped her before we arrived. One was holding her head, the other was, well, I'm not sure, really. She was giving some very helpful suggestions, suggesting that we get an ambulance, advising us not to move her, except, perhaps, the recovery position?
The ambulance arrived a few minutes later (or, in my case, a phew! minutes later). We quickly get a scoop stretcher under her, to the accompaniment of the passer by suggesting that we don't move her! I wondered if she thought we should help Mabel set up home in the middle of the high street, but bit my tongue, much to the amusement of my colleagues.
By this time Mabel was as awake as she ever was, and the crew were happy to take her to the local - hospital, not off-licence!
I popped back to my car, just in time to turn round and drive back to the swimming pool.
As I am driving Princess RRD home, I told her all about my running call. For this journey, at least, her Blackberry was left in her pocket.
11 months ago