“And then this old bloke said, ‘I’m gonna call 999! If you don’t come and help me now, I’m gonna call 999.’ And the nurse – well, I think it was a nurse – one of the staff, anyway – told him he couldn’t call 999 from an A&E department. What did he think was going to happen? An ambulance crew is not going to come and treat him in A&E.”
“What was wrong with him?” I ask.
“Something to do with his leg, I think,” says ActorLaddie. “He had a sort of boot thing on it. Anyway, he then kind of grabbed at a passing doctor and said ‘I’ve been waiting for hours – why can’t you look at my leg?’ And the doctor stopped for a second, looked at the chap and said ‘because I have a patient who is dying.’ That shut him up for a bit.
“I wanted to say to him, be grateful that you are waiting in a wonderful hospital with amazing staff and resources none of which are going to charge you a penny. But I didn’t have the energy. I did think it, though, really, really loudly.”
ActorLaddie has had a bit of a rum time of things recently. He was leading a guided walk looking at London City Churches last week when he started feeling unwell – a bit faint and weak, particularly on the one side.
Now, when they make the bio-pic of his life, ActorLaddie will at this point bravely continue leading his group through the City Spires, trouper that he is, completing the guided tour at the entrance to the church of St Stephen Walbrook. His group will then go on into the church to hear a concert and, as the chamber music starts, A.L. will stumble on the church steps and fall, gouging open his head. He’ll pull himself back up on his feet, drawn lemming-like to Liverpool Street Station, totter past the Mansion House, finally collapsing in the square in front of the Guildhall. Add some snowflakes and a slowed-down cover of Streets of London and you’d have next year’s John Lewis Christmas ad.
What actually happened was – well, exactly as above, in fact. Though with autumn leaves, not snowflakes.
People rushed to help, a City Copper called for an ambulance, paramedics quickly arrived and soon ActorLaddie was heading for the Royal London Hospital and a whole series of checks and tests and scans. In between, there was, of course, a fair amount of waiting but here, we struck extremely lucky.
It’s been some time since I mentioned my niece, Ezza, who, as well as being a phenomenally topping kind of cove, has, since she last graced these pages, become a fourth year medical student. Not only that but, the very day of A.L.’s unpleasantness, she was studying in the library adjoining the Royal London.
So, while those waiting around him were Reeling and Writhing and Fainting in Coils – not to mention attempting to phone 999 – ActorLaddie was supported by someone who was not only good company but also understood what was going on medically. She explained it to A.L. in old money and sent encouraging bulletins to me at home. She even sorted him out a cab at the end of the day and messaged a detailed SitRep outlining what was going on and what the next steps would be. Honestly, if you don’t have an Ezza in your life, get one. We are so grateful to her.
We’re also grateful to:
- the staff at the Royal London who eventually decided that A.L. had probably had had a TIA
- the lady in the appointments department at Barnet Hospital who called us at eight in the morning and arranged a visit for that day’s clinic
- the nurse in the TIA clinic at Barnet who kindly shepherded us through a day of tests and scans and consultations
- the reception and paramedical staff in the MRI unit at Chase Farm who were already working when we turned up for the appointment at 7.15 a.m!
- our G.P. who saw A.L. to review everything at 7.30 at night
- our pharmacist who carefully worked out with us the best timings for the new medication.
ActorLaddie is now pretty much OK: tired still and a bit shaken, but relieved that the tests and scans are all positive – no lasting damage; medication hopefully in place to prevent a recurrence; gouged head healing nicely.
And I think it’s a tribute to his professionalism that a couple of days after the shenanigans, ActorLaddie received an email from some of the ladies who’d been on the tour to say how much they’d enjoyed it, and would he lead another tour for them on Dickens’s London? Honestly, darling, the audience didn’t notice a thing.
So, as Tiny Tim would have said, given the chance: God Bless the NHS!