Today, I notice, it is 35 years since I was nearly killed by a driver somewhat under the influence.
Ony my way home from school, I’d dropped in to Lewisham Library to borrow a recording of the Berlioz Requiem (Davis/LPO), and a nice biography of the man. I was thinking about this as I got off the Bus. It had been raining heavily all day, and it was now dark. Still thinking about Berlioz, I stepped off the pavement on to a very complex crossing. A car came unexpectedly round the corner and crashed in to me. I had no recollection at the time of what happened next. I believe my spectacles came off and broke the windscreen ahead of my own impact. I do remember hitting the driver hard in the face, before somehow rolling out of the car and off the bonnet. My next firm memory is of sitting in a deep puddle, still clutching my book and gramophone records, and fiddling with a loose front tooth. I was perfectly calm, and was angry at one point with a silly woman who kept insisting I must be deep in shock. It was now that I realised I was bleeding from several places.
The driver then staggered from the wreckage of his car and collapsed on the pavement. When the ambulance arrived, I was still sitting in the puddle and holding my front tooth in place. The driver and I were both taken to hospital. I spent much of the night in Lewisham Hospital, subjected to various x-rays and other tests. I endured these by reading my book and answering questions from policemen – who, in 1977, hadn’t yet become the total pigs of our own day. I was eventually told that nothing was broken, and I was allowed home with my mother.
I woke next morning, unable to move from the bruising that covered most of my body. On the plus side, however, I got an unquestioned fortnight off school without having to play truant; and the gramophone records weren’t damaged. The librarians were even very understanding about the bloodstains all over the book.
Oh, and, though I declined to lay charges, I threatened to sue the driver until his insurance company coughed up something handsome.
To think that the 11th October 1977 might have been my last day on earth – just imagine what we’d all have missed!