Daniel Radcliffe reputedly stated that he is not clumsy, just accident prone, but it sounds to me like he is simply quibbling with semantics. Call it what you will, I too am klutzy, clumsy, uncoordinated and monumentally accident prone, often butterfingered or all thumbs, and generally covered in bruises. It’s a family thing, and sadly, something I never seem to grow out of.
Last week, for example, there I was, comfortably ensconced in my favourite new coffee shop with my laptop. The internet at home was sulking, and I urgently needed to get some work done. Immersed in something doubtless quite riveting, I was perched at the bench along the window, with my trusty laptop propped open in front of me. Not so trusty, as it transpired.
As I slid my computer back to make room for a bowl of pumpkin soup, there was an almighty crash. I looked first for my glass of wine, but it was still sitting innocently by my elbow. Beneath the countertop I saw a glass vase at my feet, its shattered remains lying in a puddle of crimson water. Aghast – I hadn’t noticed that my laptop was concealing a vase – I was about to call a waiter to apologize when I realized that the water was collecting its fiery colour from a gash across the top of my foot. By now I had attracted plenty of attention. The café was – of course – jam packed with people and I was suddenly the centre of attention, the elephant in the room at whom everyone was staring. One couple leapt up to help me wrap my foot in a napkin, and several staff members came at the run to my rescue. Ambulances were offered and a flotilla of wheelchairs came galloping through the door. I have rarely felt quite so conspicuous or quite so stupid. A paper bag to throw over my head would have been most welcome.
After much discussion, it was decided that as I had not actually severed my foot right off at the ankle, it might be quicker and safer to take me across the road to the Rockwell Clinic, rather than wait for an ambulance while I quietly bled to death. (I was hardly bleeding at all, in fact, but everyone else seemed to be enjoying the drama). Much to my embarrassment, and rapidly turning the same colour as my gently bleeding foot, I found myself being perambulated out of the café and across the road, with a cast of thousands following in my wake – or so it felt, to my heightened self-consciousness. I soon discovered that, even in Rockwell, the pavements are not designed for wheelchairs, and we careered wildly around trees and bumped up and over the kerb. Like Rosie the Hen, we went across the yard, around the pond, over the haystack, past the mill, through the fence and under the beehives, followed by a swarm of able-bodied spectators. Having somehow survived the obstacle course relatively intact, I arrived at the clinic feeling like the Pied Piper of Hamlin.
And there I sat, in the middle of the clinic – a room 12 feet x 12 feet – surrounded by my flock. Actually, I am not sure they were all there for me, but they seemed more than happy to join in the fun. A nurse emptied a bucket of water over my foot to clean it off and called the doctor. Three ambulance men arrived to make me sign my life away on some form renouncing their services, although I have no recollection of having called them in the first place. The sweet doctor, dragged from her dinner to rescue this awkward antipodean, duly arrived with her four-year-old daughter in tow, and the damage was swiftly repaired. I managed to retain my equilibrium through all but the anesthetic injected into the wound. Then, numb of foot and sewn neatly back together, I was advised, severely, to stay off my foot so it could heal. I was then ushered out the door with a wad of prescriptions and instructions to gather up bandages and antibiotics, painkillers and a tetanus booster. The wheelchair had been returned from whence it had so mysteriously come, so, with no other means of transportation, I hobbled back to the restaurant to pay my bill and finish my soup, apologize for the mess and thank the lovely staff for their help. Fed and watered, I then braved the mall for a welter of medical supplies before returning to the clinic for the nurse to administer the requisite tetanus shot. At this point, my arm was feeling hardly done by, but as my foot was still encased in blissful, anaesthetized oblivion, I limped bravely home.
To this day, I cannot understand why it never occurred to me to retain the services of the wheelchair, or at least procure the aid of an assistant to run errands to Mercury Drug – and my foot would later be most unsympathetic and swell up to twice its normal size in retaliation for my thoughtless attitude – but there it is, the price of fame. From a fan base of thousands, I suddenly found myself alone, and shambling sadly home without even a stick or shopping trolley for support. Unlike the Pied Piper, there was no magical flute with which to wreak vengeance on my fickle fans, but to be honest, I am just grateful to the staff at Single Origin who gathered me up and saw me safely to the clinic, and who, in their generosity and kindness, have even welcomed me back to the coffee shop – although in the meantime, they have wisely removed all the vases from my cack-handed reach. Here’s to Filipino hospitality!
*With thanks to Google Images for the perfect cartoon. Where do I get the goggles, please?