Shouldering Arms

by John Harvey

Was it the fact that Spurs had succeeded in beating a more than competent Swansea side that had put me into such an energetic, almost euphoric mood, or some sense of urgency about the next train from South Tottenham – whatever the reason, there I was, my partner, Sarah, in my wake, hurrying along a crowded Tottenham High Road, weaving in and out of the departing crowd, when – wham! – my foot caught in a length of wire or string close to the kerb and I crashed headlong.

People around me stopped, concerned. ‘You all right, mate? You all right?’ Hands lifted me cautiously back to my feet. ‘Are you okay?’ Sarah asked. I was not. Aside from a cut lip, a grazed hand, a bleeding nose and sore ribs, my right arm and shoulder hurt like hell.

Thankfully, there was a hairdresser’s right by and, stumbling in, I asked if I might sit a while. Immediately they offered water, showed concern; by my  good fortune, a young woman amongst the customers had nursing experience and quickly assessed the situation, phoning for an ambulance and applying a wet towel as a cold compress against my shoulder, which she assumed, correctly, had been dislocated.

‘I haven’t done this in a while,’ she said, carefully relieving me of my shirt. ‘I don’t believe that for a moment,’ I said, trying for a smile. Not totally out of it, then.

The ambulance crew – Anna and Mike – were also brilliant – Anna giving me everything from Ibuprofen to Gas & Air while Mike asked for details of the match. With a few bursts of the siren to get through the crowd still coming out of the stadium, they took me to North Middlesex hospital in Edmonton, where I was x-rayed, given more pain killers and then put to sleep with an anaesthetic (Thank heavens!) while they manoeuvred the shoulder back into place.

I’ve since been discharged and am able to move the arm more and more, but, so far, any pressure is quite painful. What I’m left with, annoyance at my own stupidity in hurrying unnecessarily aside, is a sense of how generous and concerned everyone was and how grateful I am that they were.