A heavily-built man in his sixties, sun burnt arms folded across a bulging vest. There’s a punchy, ill-focused hostility to him that the bottle of whisky he drank has fed but not created. The open fracture to his ankle has been dressed and stabilised. His family smoke and look in at the ambulance steps.
Let me off. I’m not going nowhere. I’m getting off and going home. Broken, you say? What - are you, a doctor? I don’t give a fuck if it’s broken, pal. S’all right. I’ll do somepin’ about it in the morning. I’ve got diabetes you know. Did you know that? Diabetes. So fuck you, fuck your broken leg. I’m off.
A tall, middle-aged man, lying on his side in a pool of blood, kicking his feet, half-rising then collapsing back and banging his head back against the skirting board. His face is a raging mask of blood, each tooth individually described in red. His eyes, his bare torso, his hair – every aspect of him covered. We were told he cut his ear off with a razor, but it’s all such a mess and he’s so violent and spraying and spitting it’s impossible to get close enough to tell.
What about my son? Hmm? Yeah? What are you doing about my son? Yeah? You? What are you doing? You fucking get away from me. All right? I’m okay. I’m okay. All right? I’m okay. Just – fucking – leave me alone. Aaaargh!
A six year old girl, pale, shadowed eyes, lying on the ambulance trolley on her side. She is hugging a toy rabbit and staring up at her father who is leaning forwards so he can stroke her forehead.
The water’s so cold it takes your breath away, but then I suppose it is the South Atlantic, coming straight at you from the Antarctic. I was a bit worried about sharks, but the guy said they didn’t come any further than Robben Island. And I said where’s that? And he pointed to this place just a little way off shore. I mean, it was really close. Like the Isle of Wight. And I said ‘What – you mean, that’s Robben Island? Just there?’ And he said ‘Yeah, but that’s where the water starts warming up so they prefer it.’ Ssh. You’ll be fine, darling. You’ll be fine.