I had been struggling under the sympathetic gazes of Clive and Robert, the paramedics, for a good fifteen minutes. Maude winced, smiled, looked away, smiled, looked at her watch.
What I was trying to do was quite simple. I was trying to stand up. My lumbago had begun to stir at the weekend:
Toddler into bath, toddler out of bath. Attention-seeking four year old up the steep stairs to bed. Bored, screaming four year old lifted off bicycle not long after start of bike ride. Deceptively heavy child’s bike carried by Daddy for rest of bike ride route etc…
My back was an accident waiting to happen. As I failed to launch from the living room carpet, I had to admit to that the accident had, indeed, happened.
Clive was the senior paramedic or ‘nurse practitioner’, as he clarified. He had recognised Maude on his arrival at the house.
‘Well I know who you are!’
Maude’s recent reality TV debut had caused something of a stir in the area and Clive was clearly an aficionado of the show. He sat and asked me the regulation questions for his forms: age, details of medical history, how I came to be helplessly prone on my own living room floor. He sped through them while his assistant checked my blood pressure and took a blood sample. Clive’s eyes moved frequently from me to Maude. He could hold out no longer:
‘But what about that hairdresser?! How did you not just throw him out of your house?’
Maude happily filled Clive in on some of the backstage secrets of the show and joked about the menu choices of her fellow contestants. Clive reminded her of some of her funniest remarks and commented on how much Maude reminded him of his favourite sister.
I coughed weakly from the floor. It was then that Clive and Robert tried to manoeuvre me from beetle stranded on back to fully functioning stay at home Dad.
‘Well, we could give you a painkilling injection, but that’ll not necessarily get you off the floor. Go on, have another go.’
As I managed to get onto my hands and knees, I could feel a bead of sweat dripping off the end of my nose and extreme pain radiating from a source somewhere around a twenty six year old operation scar. I steeled myself for one last attempt on ‘upright’. As I crumpled back to the floor, I could hear a ringtone of unfamiliar young person’s music coming from Robert’s mobile phone. He apologised as he rifled through his bag. I could also hear Clive.