Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Could I Be So Blind; CITY LIVES

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Could I Be So Blind; CITY LIVES

Article excerpt


Even Conran let me down IHAD a brush with the NHS on Sunday, and found out I am a very bad daughter. Every Sunday, I cook lunch for my mum, who is disabled. But this weekend I had to work, so I only turned up at 6pm. I almost didn't go at all, and would have preferred to snuggle up in front of the fire at home with a glass of wine but, as I had missed a previous weekend, I made the effort, thinking I would stay until Heartbeat.

But, by 8pm my mum had started to shake uncontrollably. I phoned NHS Direct.

It took nine minutes for them to answer, and then they told me it would be a threehour wait until someone qualified would ring me back.

I decided to try to get my mum up to bed, and helped her walk with her frame to the stair lift. Halfway there, she collapsed. I tried to keep her upright for about five minutes because if I let her drop to the floor she would be too heavy for me to lift back up again (I think she has been eating too many Custard Creams); instead, I let her slide to the floor with a modicum of dignity.

I laid her out flat and put a pillow under her head and called 999. An ambulance arrived in just under six minutes, and the two paramedics were wonderful, really kind and efficient and, after about an hour, we managed to wrestle my mum into bed.

"Do you want me to stay the night?" I asked her, knowing deep down I hoped she would say, "No, don't you worry, darling, I'll be fine." But, instead, for the first time, she squeaked, "Yes, please."

So I stayed, in my old bedroom with its posters of ponies still miraculously Blu-tacked to the wall.

The next morning, I went downstairs to make my mum a cup of tea while I waited for the nurse. I noticed the cooker was covered in grease, the fridge was dirty and full of long past its sell-by-date food. My mum had been covering up how well she has been managing on her own and I suppose it takes a crisis to wake you out of your selfish, "ooh, I must get back to my glamorous life with its spa treatments" stupor, while my poor old mum sits in her chair, always cheerful on the phone, not wanting to be a bother. …

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