‘Sorry to bother you but there’s a man in the ditch who says he’s got a broken leg,’
‘Who is it?’ I ask the worried faces at the kitchen door – one is a workman erecting our solar panels and the other is a white faced lad.
‘Can’t remember, he did say his name,’ says the lad, ‘I nearly ran him over! He told me to get you!’
‘Is it Roger?’ I ask over my shoulder, running towards the gate.
‘That’s it! That’s his name!’
Roger is our nearest neighbour.
He is lying face down in the narrow, shallow gully that runs down between his house and the road, he is darkly dressed and mud splattered and still wearing the world weary cricket hat he had on an hour earlier when he had been in our kitchen drinking coffee. He is perfectly camouflaged but the other workman is standing guard to make sure no one else runs him over.
‘What have you done?’
Roger had skidded on the slippery ramp to his cabin and heard his ankle crunch and snap. He had called and called – we were digging with the digger and no one heard.
He tried to adjust his right foot into a walking position, felt faint and thought better of it. He shouted some more and no one heard. His wife was out and he didn’t know when she would be back, it was raining intermittently and the sun had sunk behind the tall trees and it was getting chilly so he set off to crawl the fifty yards through the long wet grass to the road. He was on his way, commando style, down the ditch towards his front door and a telephone when the man delivering our cable (fortunately young and on-the-ball) narrowly missed him and got out to investigate.
While the workman calls an ambulance, I wrap him in roof-insulating foil and carefully unlace his boot, it does not seem to hurt him too much.
‘Perhaps is just a sprain?’ he says.
‘Perhaps it is, can you roll over and we’ll have a proper look,’ He rolls over and his booted foot flops into a strangely unnatural posture.
‘Woops! Roll back Rog.’
We remove his boot with the foot pointing in its normal direction – aided by gravity. It is warm and not all that tender or bruised and I can feel several pulses – we wrap it up to keep it warm and await the ambulance. Several vehicles come along – all stop, the drivers get out and join in. One wraps his fluorescent coat into a bundle and puts it under Roger’s head. Someone else gives him a lighted cigarette. A police van arrives, the first we have ever seen in these parts, it is only passing through but the driver waits patiently behind the log-jam of other vehicles and chats.
Roger is feeling quite warm and becoming positively effusive – I’ve noticed this before – something to do with adrenaline, I think – people can seem at their very best when they are quite near to their very worst, it is probably the secret of most heroism — it won’t last!
‘Here it comes!’ the look-out shouts and a big yellow ambwlans sweeps onto the scene — we are chastised for the smoking. Roger is loaded and someone slips his rolling tobacco and papers into his soggy pocket. The doors of the ambulance are closed. I am sent to find some dry clothes – not easy in someone else’s home. I do the best I can. I am then dispatched to find his medication.
Meanwhile his wife arrives, shocked by the sight of the ambulance and surprised to find the paramedic dressing her husband in drag – she retrieves her clothes indignantly and makes haste to procure more macho garb, she also manages to find his pills and off he goes.
Later that night his wife returns from the hospital at Aberystwyth – he is to have his ankle surgically pinned the following day. By then she has washed his wet clothes and pegged them out.
‘What do you think I should do with his tobacco?’
‘He won’t be able to get out, to smoke.’
‘No, I know that — it’s been through the washing machine.’ We both peer into the packet, ‘it’s only a bit damp.’
Get well soon, Roger!