Cecilia Peartree and the (so far) Non-fatal Accident

‘But what were you doing on a wall?’ is usually the first question people ask when I tell them  I broke my hip falling off a wall.

(The second and third questions are often to do with where I got my jumper and where I am from because they don’t recognise my accent.)

Actually the reason I always mention the wall is that I refuse to use the standard phrase about ‘having a fall’ because it sounds too much as if I just keeled over at home or in the garden or the street for no particular reason apart from extreme old age. It wasn’t quite like that…

I’d been wanting to go down to Silverknowes for a while to take more photos of the area and to supplement my knowledge of the place in case Pamela Prendergast had another outing. So when my son asked if I’d like to go out with him and my grandson on a Sunday, I suggested we might go down to the beach there. Although there’s quite a slope down from the parking spaces to the promenade and the beach, it’s all flat once you get down, with plenty of space for grandson to run about.

I took a couple of pictures just after getting out of the car. They didn’t come out very well as it was quite a cloudy morning, but I’ll include one here as it shows the promenade with the sea-wall, the beach and a bit further away Cramond Island and the causeway.

When my son and grandson arrived, we set off down the slope. Things started out badly when we discovered that, very unusually, the cafe was closed. (This became relevant later so it’s a kind of smoking gun in the story)

Still, it wasn’t raining, and grandson was happy enough to run along and then get down on the beach, where he started digging, piling up sand, demolishing etc. Very sensibly, as I thought, I refrained from climbing over the sea-wall but sat on it to watch. After a while I swung my legs round so that I didn’t have to keep twisting to see what was going on.

Evetually grandson wanted a change of scenery, so I thought I’d better swing my legs back over to the promenade side in readiness to start walking. But it was much more difficult to swing them back then it had been to turn the other way in the first place. I actually called to my son ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this!’ and at that point I should have waited for some help!

Instead, more or less in slow motion, I heaved my legs up on to the top of the wall, lost my balance, and momentum carried me inexorably down on to the promenade – only a couple of feet below. I landed very awkwardly. It was immediately clear that I wasn’t going to be able to get up again on my own. I was still wriggling about trying to get into a position where I might be able to push myself up when a woman who introduced herself as a retired GP knelt down beside me.

‘Don’t try and get up’, she said to me, and added, to my son, ‘You’d better call an ambulance’.

It didn’t hurt too much if I stayed perfectly still, so I was able to engage in banter with the passers-by and talk normally to my grandson, who had brought along some kind of toy surveillance vehicle and decided his self-appointed task, once he’d helped to fetch a blanket from the car, should be to observe everyone who came along and warn us if they were up to no good.

To my surprise the ambulance arrived very quickly and we could see it at the top of the slope. It should have been able to drive right down to the promenade, but it turned out that the vehicle access was blocked because there was a padlocked bar across it and only the cafe owner, who we had already noticed wasn’t there that day, had the key to the padlock.

However, the paramedics wheeled their trolley down to me and had to wheel it back up again with me on it, so son and grandson had to help, and then grandson had the added excitement of seeing me being loaded into the ambulance.

I was in a hospital bed within about three hours of the fall, including the wait for the ambulance, the transfer to A and E, getting booked in and several X-rays.

So that’s the story. Though I do now have some add-on hospital stories if you’re hungry for more. The man who groaned and sobbed, the faulty buzzer and my escape attempt, nightmare in orthopaedic rehab…

But I’d better keep something in case I want to use all this in a novel, I suppose.

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