I have that first Wednesday insecure feeling. Looking back on previous insecure posts I see that I have rambled on about broken love affairs whilst trees fell around my ears. Just imagine – I thought I knew something about insecurity. Until a few days ago I knew nothing. That was when I could stand up and support myself on two legs. That was before the Red Cross issued me with a wheelchair and crutches.
Being a believer in determinism I have to accept that since my birth and the first design concepts of the Brittany ferry “Bretagne”, I had been hurtling towards a moment of destiny. Ahead of us lay a starry night, our traditional Earth moving kiss on the deck as Angleterre slipped away to the north and a hairy Frenchman in orange overalls spraying water with a hose. As we crossed the heli-pad my leg folded under me with an agonising pop. As I lay felled by the French like Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar, I began to wonder how the crew of the rescue helicopter would be able to reach me on the treacherous gloss painted skid pan deck. I guess they carry a good supply of crutches. I knew that my Easter at home in France was not to be. Gilles cajoled and dragged me to the cabin and we summoned the nurse. She found the solitary ship’s ice pack.
On arrival in France my leg resembled a black blue and green mottled snake that had swallowed a football. Our home lay 300 miles to the south and I could not bend my leg. We decided to keep me on ice in the cabin (they pickled Nelson in Brandy – but I did not think that Brittany Ferries would supply a barrel) and go back to the UK where we live a few minutes from the port. As a Brit I can get medical attention in the UK without complication and a long stay in a hospital miles from any home lacked appeal.
If you really want to feel insecure – plonk yourself in a wheelchair as a captive patient. The following afternoon as we approached the shores of Britain, Gilles decided to take me out for a spin. Watching paralympic sport on TV had obviously inspired him into some kinda wheelchair sprint fantasy accompanied by Formula One racing car noises. He’ll make someone a lovely husband when he grows up. He does the same tricks with supermarket trolleys. You do realise just how tough it is for folks in wheelchairs. All manner of lumps and gulleys become hazards. With my leg straight out in front of me like a lance I felt like a jousting knight on a runaway horse. At the self service restaurant a chef tapped rather impatiently on his steel pots of vegetables demanding to know which I wanted. I would have told him but my eyes were about level with the tray track. “Does she like beans?” he asked Gilles.
About halfway across the English Channel the UK coastguard carried out a helicopter rescue exercise. Gilles wanted to offer me to the Captain as an authentic casualty. The red and white whirly-bird
hovered above the ship while a guy dangled with a stretcher above the deck. Luckily he kept himself clipped on to his rope.
Eventually I was trundled back to the car deck and levered into the car. Some 23 hours after we had boarded the ferry we got off again at exactly the same point. I must say that all of the crew of the Brittany ferry Bretagne were kind and helpful – but I’m not so sure about the orange guy with the hose.
As for the future – well it looks a bit insecure on one leg. Much talk of quadriceps tendons and cartilage looks certain.
Emma thinx: If you’re hoping the Earth will move, find firm ground.