Do you ever have days when it all goes wrong?
I was all ready to go home last Friday; scrubbed, showered, dressed, packed, taxi arrived, waved off into lift on the second floor.
By the time the lift arrived on the ground floor I was unconscious. Donât ask me â I was out of it!
Somehow my favourite little Sicilian taxi driver who is knee high to a grasshopper and ankle high to a Raccoon, dragged me out of the lift and pausing only to gather up my purse and hospital papers, legged it â stage left â to get help. The sharp eyed reader will have noticed his error.
The next occupants of the lift, somewhat bemused to find carrier bags full of Heinz baked beans, were even more bemused to discover their exit blocked by a large comatose woman, head resting on a panama hat. No identification, no sign of life. They tore off to the right and found a nurse with a trolley â I was loaded up and sped off God knows where.
Which left my pint-sized Sicilian running round the hospital clutching my purse, babbling an unlikely tale of having temporarily borrowed it from an unconscious Raccoon who belonged in his taxi but was now nowhere to be found.
No one does hysteria quite like a traumatised Sicilian taxi driver with an unpaid fare.
Eventually we were reunited back on the second floor where he fell sobbing into the arms of his fare and alibi to such effect that he was believed to be my husband. I was sobbing and clutching him too, if for no other reason than I believed him to be the only person in this foreign land who spoke English.
âThey want to know how you feel,â he said. What kind of a damn fool question is that?
âLike swapping places with Prescottâs hemorrhoids would be an improvement!â I said. It got a tad confused in the translation, I fear.
I asked him to fire the only weapon left in my armoury â telephone he who is contractually obliged to shoulder the blame for everything up to and including the fall of St Petersburg.
âI canât come home; Iâm wired into the National Grid, Iâve got no blood pressure, theyâre all shouting at me in French, do somethingâ, I commanded.
Youâd think after all these years he would know better than to interrupt a rant; but the damn fool spoke, honestly!
âIâll just put the video on for the qualifying andâ¦â¦â¦â
Well, I hung up on him, obviously.
Hours later they had inched my blood pressure up to 80 over some thing and I thought I might aspire to a life swap with Prescottâs left testicle instead, when the door opened and Mr G hove into view pushing a wheelchair.
âCome on Gollum, Iâve got permission to take you out for half an hour!â
He parked me in the petit jardin overlooking our camping car and disappeared into the back. The unmistakable scent of bacon wafted over me. I thought was hallucinating.
He was collecting a small audience, admiring the camping car or more probably, that rarity around here, his hairâ¦..when I heard him say âclose your eyesâ.
When I opened them, a table had appeared, a bottle of HP sauce â the genuine article, a mug of Yorkshire tea, and a bacon sandwich was in front of me â there was a ripple of applause from the audience. If you squint your eyes and focus on the HP sauce bottle, tell yourself the roar of the air conditioning is the crash of waves, listen to the babble of foreign tongues all around you â you could be on Southend Pier.
âBig Ernâ, the man formerly known as Mr G is sheer genius â he has learnt something over the years after all, he knows exactly how to raise my blood pressure!
Heâll be back at 7.30 tomorrow morning with more bacon. The nurses are delighted and busy inspecting the ingredients on my prized bottle of HP. Blood pressureâs over 100 now!