Age 22, I wrote a letter to my future self. In a moment of transcendent clarity, I committed my thoughts to paper so I could look back and remember that feeling.
Standing outside the train station on London Road, I looked across at the skyline of Leicester. ‘Whatever happens, I’m not coming to this shit-hole’, I thought.
I turned the corner to come nose-to-nose with a decapitated camel, hanging grimly outside a butcher’s shop. A hook through the underside of its jaw.
You’re unaware your arm is resting up against a boiling kettle. The skin is burning but you can’t feel it. When and how do you realise? When you smell your skin crisping up like pork crackling?
It’s a Sunday evening in January 2011. I’m sitting with 6 strangers in a house in Paddington. There’s an uneasy silence. We’re waiting to get started…
My tour was interrupted by an old lady who seemed to know everyone. She took my and warmly between hers. Not letting go.
We ‘upgraded’ to the suburbs when I was 7 years old. The school I left behind was an austere Victorian building with separate entrances for boys and girls.
When I woke I touched the side of my head gently. Dried blood. The pain was intense. Like a visit by the mother of all hangovers.
It felt like my eyeballs had swollen to the size of cricket balls, being pushed out of their sockets from the inside.
I vomited in the bathroom sink before leaving for school. Nerves. Today I joined the new sixth-formers as they began their A levels.
The impact of the collision with the car may have damaged my kidneys.
I’d need an internal examination. I chose not to ask what that involved.
While still in the hospital I learned the identity of the driver that had hit me. A 19-year-old former pupil of my school. I didn’t feel anger towards him, but I didn’t forgive him either…
A broken femur shaft takes 3 months to repair itself. So, regardless of my other injuries, I’d spend at least 3 months in a hospital bed. It was unimaginable.
After a week in hospital I was moved from a private room to one shared with another patient. A young motorcyclist, recently admitted. He was in pain, groaning constantly.
I received a shot of intravenous pain relief every 30 minutes. This was effective for 20 minutes, leaving a shortfall of 10 minutes. 10 minutes of agony.
On a dark country lane in East Yorkshire in 1983, I was hit by a car travelling at 80 km per hour. I was 16 years old.
‘There was a beautiful white Azalea in this garden. Where has it gone? Do you live here?’ An elderly, smartly dressed, woman has stopped me. Outside my house on Alice Street.