I have broken my arm. Pause for “armless” jokes. Ok. I did it in a car crash that took place conveniently about 700 miles away from my home, on an island. Our car was virtually destroyed and we were stranded with bruised bodies, a useless ferry ticket and battered expectations. And lots and lots of luggage.
This was not easy to handle – especially the luggage. My wife did not have a broken arm, but she was so badly bruised that her lifting capacity was minimal. Seat belts and airbags may save your life, but they also beat you up badly.
I would have been close to despair, but there was one factor that I had overlooked – other people.
Jean-Paul Sartre is famous for his line that “hell is other people”. In certain circumstances that may be true, but in the circumstances we found ourselves, the opposite was the case. It is only through the kindness of other people that we got through the ordeal as well as we did.
From the outset, passers-by rushed over to comfort my wife, who seemed most badly affected. The Orkney police were extremely kind, as were the paramedics and hospital staff. From the hospital, the police drove us back to our B&B – a distance of over 15 miles and up a rough track.
But our B&B host was the star. She not only overwhelmed us with sympathy and TLC, but drove us to the garage where our wreck of a car had been deposited, helped us recover a large number of items and then helped us sort them out for transport back to Norwich. We would take what we could manage (my right arm was fine), and she would arrange for the rest to be packed up and sent off.
Then (as well as looking after six other guests) she drove us all the way to the airport at Kirkwall, made sure the airline, Loganair, looked after us – they did – and saw us off. What a star.
Earlier, I had rung the holiday company that arranged our customised trip. It was out of hours, but the woman on the end of the phone could not have been more sympathetic, or more helpful. She booked flights, contacted our B&B host and kept on checking that everything was OK.
In case you ever want this kind of holiday (without the car crash) I can recommend McKinlay Kidd. I’m sure legally they didn’t have to sort out these problems, but they pulled out all the stops. And the holiday was great too – as it had been, a couple of years ago, in the Outer Hebrides.
Back in Norwich, after a delightful couple of flights, we were met at the airport by friends and taken home. Happy ending? I’ll let you know. We’re both still in quite a bit of a pain, and I spent three days in hospital, but those other people got us through.
We told our B&B host she was a wonderful person. “No,” she said. ‘I’m just a person.”
I didn’t argue. I was too tired.