Wednesday, February 02, 2011

old wounds

The flat is in uproar. Joyce is having her hair done by Janice’s friend Mary; she is sitting in a plastic bib at the kitchen table, her excitement as tightly wound and brightly coloured as the curlers in her hair; Mary is holding up her hands in their yellow washing up gloves like some crazed surgeon, chasing Joyce’s husband Harry out of the kitchen and back into the sitting room. Janice is still on the phone, and waves pleasantly as we come into the room. When Mary turns Harry round with the points of her elbows, we see the knitting needle he sat on sticking out of his butt like an arrow.
‘Wait a minute,’ he says. ‘Just a minute.’
‘What have you been playing at, Harry?’ says Frank, dumping his bag on the floor and going over to him. ‘Cowboys and Indians?’
‘I – what? No – you see – Joyce had to have the table for her hair, so we swapped places. Only she’d left her number sixes on the cushion, and I got one up me jacksy.’
The needle has gone through his jeans, the tails of his shirt, his boxers and about an inch into the flesh at the top of his right buttock.
‘They told us not to pull it out,’ says Joyce.
‘I don’t think you could pull it out,’ says Harry, wandering over in her direction. ‘But have a go, by all means.’
‘No! I’m not pulling it out. Who d’you think I am? King Arthur?’
Harry looks at us. ‘You see what I have to put up with?’
Frank gets out his shears.
‘Good god! What are you going to do with them?’
‘Just a little minor surgery, mate. Don’t worry. I’ve read all the manuals.’
‘Oh, yes? That’s encouraging.’
‘We’re just going to cut your jeans around the needle so we can inspect the wound. Sorry. I hope you weren’t too attached to them.’
He shrugs.
‘What can you do? If they’ve got to go, they’ve got to go.’
I help support the needle and stretch the material whilst Frank makes a few neat cuts. We get down to skin level, and Frank gently feels around the wound to get an impression of the depth and severity of the injury.
‘It’s gone in about half an inch, but it’s a fatty part of the body, so there are no other organs or blood vessels to worry about. We can pull it out for you if you want.’
‘Yes. Go on. I’m not bothered. It’s nothing to me.’
He points over to a glass display cabinet on the wall. Pinned to the red velvet of the case, a line of old battle medals.
‘See that?’ he says. ‘When you’ve had lumps shot out of you in North Africa, shrapnel in the leg at Suez and your eardrums blown out in Korea, you don’t worry much about – oh!’
He turns round and looks at Frank, kneeling on the carpet behind him, waving the knitting needle in the air.
‘There you go. That wasn’t too bad, was it? Now then. When did you last have a tetanus?’
Frank stands up and hands the needle over to Joyce, who makes a face as she takes it.
‘I’m not using that,’ she says. ‘I know where it’s been.’
‘You could always frame it like his medals’ says Frank.
Harry wanders over, rubbing the seat of his trousers. ‘Good idea. Maybe then I won’t end up sitting on it.'


Unknown said...

That was a funny one. I hear impalements happen quite often. If that's true, I would imagine most of you in the medical field are very diligent when preparing to seat yourself.

Unknown said...

haha! hilarious. I've never heard it called a 'jacksy' before!

BB said...

At least that one was a happy ending, no butts about it!!

Kim said...

Spectacular!!! Her number eights. That's a good sized knitting needle.

Gentrie said...

Ha! I quilt, and I always try and be sure I don't leave needles and pins lying around for everyone to step on, or sit on.


Carey Brown Strombotne said...

Brilliant! I suppose he wasn't expecting another medal of honor.

Alexia said...

Oh you've made my day, Spence! Great story, wonderfully told.

Ms. Whatsit said...

I love reading your stories, and that there is always one among the sad that makes me laugh.

jacksofbuxton said...

Thank goodness it was a genuine accident.I thought for a moment you were going to share one of those "Well,I was doing the vacuuming in the nude...." tales.

This made me smile on "Today" this morning.

Excellent as ever Spence.

Anonymous said...

Hi Spence, have you seen these?

Spence Kennedy said...

nari - I once got on my bike only to find the saddle had been nicked...

mbj - jacksy = very old school!

bb - it all came out right in the end (or maybe it came out of the end all right)

kim - I've revised it down to a size 6!

gentrie - it makes your eyes water to think of what can happen... but keep on quilting!

cbs - I don't think he could fit any more in his cabinet. A v brave old soldier. Bombs, bullets, knitting...

alexia - thanks!

amber - it's good to write something that's not quite so downbeat once in a while!

JoB - I love those 'by accident' stories - I think Little Britain did a great running gag about a Tory MP explaining what happened to the press.

As far as the bariatric issue goes...

& anon - Yeah - we have a couple of those trucks. They're adapted PTS vehicles, with wide trolleys and a special hoist to drag the trolley aboard. I think what we really need are those roadside grabber trucks...


Thanks v much for all your comments!

saffy said...

lol....i used to leave my knitting on the settee until the dog thought that she could help and ruined what i had created, but i dont think i ever managed to spear anyone .
thanks for the laugh

Spence Kennedy said...

Hey Saffy! Your dog was probably just very health and safety conscious and neutralising the danger! :)

Anonymous said...

In days of old, newspapers had "blacks", carbon copies of stories that went on spikes as they were used. The spikes were sharpened pieces of heavy gauge wire set in blocks of lead. Sensible journalists bent the wire into an inverted U. Some weren't sensible.

One memorable day, we were all called together for a meeting around the subs desk, which meant a few of us had to perch on desks. As I went to sit down, the sub behind me decided to push his spike to one side without looking.


Two inches of non-bent spike in the bum. I'm a fight, rather than flight, sort of bloke and my instant reaction was to go for the person whose hand was on the spike. (Completely spontaneous reaction, no thinking involved.)

We ended up on the floor, at which point I managed to restrain my urge to throttle the poor bloke. Meanwhile, everyone else was wondering what was going on—until the Chief Sub saw the spike sticking out my bum.

Then he, and everyone else, started laughing. Both at me for having been "spiked" and at X for spiking me. Oh, and at me for immediately going for X's throat.

I did, eventually, see the funny side. As did X.

It still makes me wince, though.

Spence Kennedy said...

Great story, Anon. Makes my eyes water. I don't blame you for going for the Sub's throat. I wonder if he thought you were attacking him for butchering one of your articles. It must have been a fantastic sight!

Cheers for the anecdote, Anon. Hope your wound healed up nicely (but don't send any pics, I'm happy to take your word on that one). :/

Jane Brideson said...

Great story - good to get a lighter one for balance - bet he was a nice patient too.
Yes, I thought it was one of those "I was dusting naked and sat on the fruit bowl story" too.

Spence Kennedy said...

He was such a lovely old guy. A vibrant household, he had loads of attitude mixed in with the kind of humour you can bet has seen him through lots of tough times. Brilliant guy. Hope I'm half as good when I'm his age! :)

Kim said...

Spence: I'm an avid knitter so regarding needle size... 6's or 8's... it still is a lot of "ouch" in the "jacksy"! Love your stories.

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks Kim. It was an eye-watering sight. Knit one, purl one, stick one in the jacksy... :/

Unknown said...

Hi Spence, it's great to read a funny one, need more of them please!! Such a nice change. You and Frank has a brilliant sense of humor to.x

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks Carla!
You meet loads of great characters & funny situations on the ambulance. Perk of the job, really!