Ski-blog 2003

part 2


In one corner of the ward we had a very disturbed young man whose place in an orthopaedic ward one has to deeply question. Although he had broken his wrist, this had been some months previously. But he had nowhere else to go. So the nursing staff had to put up with his frightening temper. I suppose it was better than letting him roam the streets, but surely a psychiatric bed would have been better? Or better still an attempt at real care in the community. Each night was punctuated by regular screams and ravings from other wards, the location of which I couldn’t even start to place as I had yet to leave my bed and hadn’t been lucid when I arrived. I trust you’re beginning to understand the Hades tag?

In the bed opposite me was a Muslim woman I felt particularly sorry for, why had she been put on a mixed sex ward? And on my right a very pleasant old man who’d just had his hip replaced. The night after his operation he decided to try and cross the floor. He reached the half way mark before his pyjama trousers headed south and removed the last vestiges of his dignity. My own drug-induced horror came a couple of nights later as they began to bring me off the painkillers. I became convinced that I was being used as an extra in the BBC hospital drama “Casualty”.
“Where are the cameras you bastards? I’m not doing this without being paid you feckers!” was amongst the niceties I shouted. The nurses came running and prevented me from leaving my bed in search of the director. Possibly the worse part of this episode was not that I had sworn at the nursing staff (I’m sure they had similar cold turkey experiences all the time). No, it was that I could remember it all so vividly the next day, and to this day I remember how totally convinced I was of the reality of my fantasy. Who says the drugs don’t work?

Yet despite the unpleasantness, within ten days I was totally institutionalised. The coffee was undrinkable so I started drinking over-sweetened tea, a drink I’d given up years ago. And the food, I’d chose the so-called Asian Vegetarian, was really rather good. The routine (including the night-time entertainments) had become addictive, it was easy, I could do this. Spotting this, Zee demanded my release papers and drove me home. It was amazing to see the outside world again but ‘twas a while before my head, let alone my leg was fully healthy. I couldn’t walk properly for weeks despite the excellent efforts of the physiotherapy team at Whips Cross. And to this day the damage to my lymphatic system leaves me with a wonderfully swollen calf after any time on my feet. On the plus side, the titanium alloy in my bionic leg serves as an early warning for cold or wet weather several days ahead of the BBC weather centre.

Sadly I have no pictures of my injuries.
I thought I still had a decent 15cm scar on my hip where they cut me open to insert the bionics but, having just had a look, even that has faded somewhat. So no flesh-tones for you today!

I don’t know how long I limped for, I was definitely still limping that June when I went to Glastonbury (where incidentally I bumped into one my physiotherapists who greeted me fondly with a “Yo, Mr. Fat-Leg, good to see you!”).

Anyway, this preamble has been to enable you to understand just a little of the trepidation I felt about strapping two planks of anything to my feet once again. It wasn’t just the fear of the pain, which they say you can’t remember anyway, it was the memory of the total inconvenience, the fear of never gaining full independence again, the memory of the “Does he take sugar?” type treatment I received at a party I attended in the early days of my release from hospital. That was scariest of all, I was sitting with my leg stretched out whilst conversations about me carried on, literally over my head.

But enough, now, I think, of that. Jump forwards to 2003 and the drive to the off airport car-parking at Luton. I was rounding the corner of a leafy lane when it hit me. “I’ve been here before, I know this corner!” Except I’d never been here before. Yet I did know the corner. Some would put it down to déjà vu and one’s left brain being out of synch with ones right. But mine are never in synch anyway so it can’t be that (which is why, coupled with only one bionic leg, I spend so much time going in round in circles). No, I have a much better theory. This life is a con, a sham, a mere game on someone’s laptop fantasy. And sometimes they get lazy with the coding. I mean how many bits of country lane will the human brain recall accurately? How many trees? How many green grassy verges?
But whilst they can get away with re-using trees and even bits of verges without anyone noticing, I think whole 30-metre stretch of road is just too much. But that’s what happened. Somewhat cut a corner (from Wales) and pasted it here in Luton. And I spotted it. Expect my disappearance very soon.

Next, the Easyjet flight to Geneva. I was pleasantly surprised by Easyjet, I have to say, the half-hour check in is a boon (though obviously I was there with two hours to spare) but the real joy was the legroom. It’s probably only a few centimetres more than a charter flight but for one with even slightly above average length legs it made all the difference. And then Geneva. Well, as Tee mentioned a while back, it is possible to leave Geneva Airport straight into France. But DeeJay tells me it’s a pain to do so with a hire car and particularly hard to get back in. So we chose the easy option and drove though Switzerlandii. I have to come clean here and announce my prejudices. I don’t like Switzerland. Of all the countries I’ve been to (17, I think) it’s the not just at the bottom of the list, it’s the only one I really don’t like (Wales has only the rain and the not being served in pubs counting against it).

So clinical.


So, we drove swiftly towards the French border. I always half expect to see some Elves (let’s face it when the non-interventionist Elvish bastards sailed West to extricate themselves from the wars of men we know they were coming to Switzerland).

And no sign of David Bowie either!

I played my usual foreign land game in which I try and spot things that make it obvious I’m not in Engerland anymore but became hypnotised by the MacDonalds signs. Which seem to be everywhwere.

We crossed the border without incident, indeed we were only stopped several kilometres inside France by a mobile Douane team. A cursory bon soir and a look to the back seat seemed to satisfy them….checking for excess Toblerones or Elves I suppose. Soonly enough after this we were in St.Jeune d’Aulps, I assume this some ancient French version of Alps but I’m sure someone will let me know if it’s not. Hard to gauge the village accurately in darkness but it seemed quite pretty. From DeeJay’s balcony I could still see the church and a neon sign flashing out its warning. And some snow. Not enough to ski on down in the village but snow nevertheless. And it was cold enough, -6ºC I believe. A quick walk round the house, a rapidly chilled beer (snow has one more than one use) and then t’was time for bed.




        Previous Instalment

Home to planarchy

Next instalment