I fought the floor but the floor won

It all seemed so simple at the time. Thursday night, Elaine was out, her hot water was on and Melissa was due home in half an hour. Plenty of time for a lovely hot bath. So I gathered up my smellies, grabbed some clean jeans and a top, and locked up. I had one foot on the collar barge and one foot still on Hendrik when it all went wrong.

The question everyone on the mooring wants to know is, was caused by the wake from a clipper? And honestly, from what I recall I don’t think it was. All I know is that as I went to step off Hendrik my foot slipped backwards and I was left with a stark choice: fall between the two boats and risk getting crushed between them, or make a herculean effort to get back onto Hendrik. The next thing I knew I was lying in a heap on Hendrik’s side deck, one arm still clinging to the railing, one leg still hanging over the side, and every bit of my body reporting in that Something Is Very Wrong.

I don’t think I’ve ever hurt so many bits of myself at once that it’s taken a few minutes just to work out which bits hurt. At the time I knew my right shoulder was in agony, my left side hurt, I’d scraped my left shin, bruised my right thumb, and my chin was probably in bad shape. But I still thought I’d get my bath.

Turns out not. I’d fallen like a sack of spuds and my chin had caught the edge of the deck, cutting a big triangular gash into it. I took one look in the mirror and the gaping wound had me grabbing my phone in a panic. Melissa heard the most pathetic voice in the world beg her to come home quick because I had to go to the hospital, and we arranged to meet at Guy’s. I somehow changed my cycling shorts for jeans with one arm holding a paper towel to my face and the other effectively paralysed, and went off to hail a cab.

At this point, I just want to say, fair play to the cab drivers of London. The first one had no problem stopping for a bloke covered in blood and waving frantically, and dropped me straight by the main entrance of Guy’s Hospital, which is less than a mile from the mooring. All very convenient. Then a security guard told me that Guy’s no longer had an Accident & Emergency department and I think I might have said some bad words. Call it mild concussion. Melissa came running up and when I saw her reaction to the gash, I began to think maybe things were even worse than I thought. Can they amputate chins? Do they do chin cosmetic surgery? Surely if they did Jay Leno could have afforded it by now?

The second taxi driver was a bit more chatty, not necessarily the best thing when you’re trying to determine whether your mouth even still works properly. But he did get us to St. Thomas’, all the way down at Westminster Bridge. I smiled my nicest smile (well, what was left of it) at the triage nurse but we still ended up with a two hour wait.

And what was the damage? Strong painkillers for the shoulder (it still hurts now on Sunday, and probably will for a few days to come), a tetanus shot, and five sutures in the beard area.

Click here for the gore

Friday was spent in a bit of a daze, trying to let the stitches bed in properly, and then yesterday we went out to a friend’s 30th – a fancy dress party on the theme of K. I pulled on my linen suit and gave out cakes all afternoon, and got lots of respect for showing up as Mr. Kipling. Except the hostess thought the surgical tape was part of the costume and pressed it back into a place a bit too firmly… OUCH.

Today we took things easy, exploring the Thames Path as far down as Rotherhithe village and discovering The Mayflower, the pub at the pier from which the Mayflower set off to collect the Pilgrims. This evening we fired up the grill and had some chicken legs in Sandy’s secret BBQ sauce. Then, because the coals were still hot, we grilled up some mango and pears. Then finally we gathered up digestive biscuits, chocolate and marshmallows. Sadly the marshmallows just fell off the skewers and the digestives crumbled when we tried to put everything together.

That’s right, I fought the s’mores but the s’mores won.

- posted by James O'Brien on 8 July 2007, 23:29 in