Just under fifteen months ago I broke my shoulder. It wasn't really my fault. I wasn't doing anything dangerous. I wasn't drunk, or cycling, or clicking my heels in the air: activities that have led to injuries in the past. I was crossing an urban road in the rain to cancel my place in a taxi queue (please, this is all true) and was forced to leap out of the way of a car turning onto the road. The driver leant across and wound down the window. 'All right, mate?' he said. Sprawled hopelessly, surrounded by shopping from Marks and Spencer's, I must have done something reassuring because he wound up the window and drove off before I had a chance to ask myself if I actually was all right or not.
I wasn't. When I tried to put the shopping back in its bags I realised my right arm didn't work. It didn't exactly hurt, just dangled in a lumpen way from my shoulder, as though denied all rights. My fingers still jiggled to order, which was a relief. I watched two middle-aged women gather my shopping for me, feeling oddly light-headed, struck by the suddenness of it all.
My mother, sheltering at a bus stop, was frantic. She was the one who'd decided there was no point trying to get a taxi mid-afternoon because they would all be doing the school run. Apparently, it's now normal practice in provincial England for children to be carried home in taxis. For a moment, hearing the screech of brakes and the multiple intake of breath, she'd thought I was dead. When she understood what had happened, she held herself to blame.
There's a long story about medical inadequacies and maltreatment that I'll save for another post. Because today I'm happy. Today, after two mislaid cheques, innumerable faxes and irate telephone calls and, even worse, irate non-telephone calls because all I could get hold of was a recorded messsage, after two visits to the insurance office in Latina, an hour and a half from here, the first infuriated and then mollified, the second (today's) incredulous and relieved, I have the money I'm owed. It's not as much as some people get for accidents of this kind, I've been told by wiser (Italian) friends, but I have it in my hand. My right hand. Which I can raise without effort in the air and wave about. The only thing I wouldn't be able to do with it is fasten a bra, so it's a good thing I never wear one.
The humerus in the photograph above belongs to a pig.