It’s Mother’s Day in the Emu household. Not normally a great cause of celebration, as Mrs Emu, forever a martyr to the cause, is as normal running around trying to fit a thousand weekend chores into the brief gaps between going for a run, writing reports, driving kids about etc. So the jr Emus are tasked largely with not trying to make her day any harder than normal, rather than starting from the base of breakfast in bed, rose petals on the duvet, and on demand peppermint foot rubs. And this, they largely do until mid afternoon, when the normal calm of the household is broken by the bloodcurdling (and frankly rather high-pitched) screaming from #3, upstairs. Mrs E and I immediately come to the same conclusion, ie that #1 has taken a break from his A level revision to sit on #3’s head. Again. So I’m despatched upstairs, in a role that I like to think bridges a gap between Kofi Anan and Dirty Harry. To my surprise, #1 is on the landing, not looking at all like a cheeky bully, but more like a very worried brother. And #3 is in the bathroom, running his hand under the cold water tap, and trying to stem the bleeding.
I say ‘trying to stem’, because it’s a fairly futile task. As we will later discover, he’s managed to cut through an artery in his hand, and we’re getting a live demonstration of just how powerful a pumping heart is – at a rate of about 100 beats a minute, his hand sprays claret all over the bathroom at an alarming velocity. It’s like stumbling into the set of The Omen, or possible the scene in the police station in ‘Withnail & I’.
Very, very, very fortunately, the love of my life is also an experienced nurse, and pretty rapid at getting up stairs – taking control of the situation she manages to stem the horror movie flow and bark out a series of commands that get the three of us out of the door in record time and pointing in the direction of A&E.
As the alpha male in the family, I immediately take on the role of ambulance driver. It’s only a couple of miles to the hospital, and I feel justified in driving like a, well, like I’m at the wheel of a minicab. Fortunately my wife is good enough to break away from her nursing duties in the back seat to kindly point out the flaws in my driving style, and indeed, the likelihood that we are all going to die if I don’t slow down. I forgot to mention that I’m also slightly hampered in my high speed journey by not being able to see terribly well. I’ve had to wear glasses for driving for about 5 years, and they’ve have been broken for about four. And that morning, despite the last superglue repair, one of the arms had finally come off. Thus I was actually having to balance the glasses on one ear and my nose, an interesting challenge when approaching a roundabout at speed, for example. The whole journey, brief though it was, was conducted with a driver looking like he was in the middle of a minor stroke, while his passengers alternately were crying with pain and shouting out instructions on how to drive. Anyway, we got there.
And during the journey and in the hospital, where incidentally, we enjoyed the kind of fabulous NHS care that frankly, I’m going to miss post ‘reform’*, we managed to piece together what had happened…
We live on a fairly busy street, and #3’s bedroom faces out to the road. So he can sit at the window and watch the world go by. And that afternoon, a girl from his class was walking past. He is at pains to point out that there is no love interest involved here, but I think we’re all impressed that he was banging on his window so enthusiastically to attract her attention that he managed to punch right through it up to his lower arm. Given that his punching ability has been a cause of some mirth in the house for a number of years, perhaps it was the power of passion that took over, a bit like those stories of mothers who lift up the back of trucks to free their trapped children.
Anyway, he’s ok now. He’s milking the inability to write, play the piano, wash up and cut up his food, but no real harm done, and it’s nice in a way that he’s got an excuse not to do these things, as normally he just skives off anyway.
And you’ll want to know what happened to the girl. Well, she walked off. Completely oblivious to the bloodfest that she’d caused a few feet above her, and the pathetic sight of #3’s arm flopping about in her general direction, out of the broken window. Girls, huh? You can work really hard to get their attention, and then they just wander off. Still, might be the first, doubt it’ll be the last.
* I’m serious. #3 was seen immediately, triaged really quickly, given pain relief, X-rayed and stitched efficiently by considerate staff who seemed to really care for the health of our child. I would dearly have loved a chat with Andrew Lansley that afternoon.