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Thread: Melanie Reid of The Times (UK)

  1. #11
    She is magnificent. It's like re-living a faded nightmare.

    Damn The Times for making their website subscription-based! Thanks pelican.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Scaper1 View Post
    She is magnificent. It's like re-living a faded nightmare.

    Damn The Times for making their website subscription-based! Thanks pelican.
    Agreed.
    Although I absolutely hate to read of someone else going through all this, her writing is so spot-on, so familiar, but so enlightening to those on the outside, that I find it compelling and rewarding reading.
    Last edited by carbar; 06-22-2010 at 03:43 PM.

  3. #13
    Senior Member NW-Will's Avatar
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    Thanks for pasting these... any chance you could copy and paste the earlier ones as they are no longer available as you said.

  4. #14
    Senior Member TJ-MN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NW-Will View Post
    Thanks for pasting these... any chance you could copy and paste the earlier ones as they are no longer available as you said.
    Yes, please do.

  5. #15
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    Melanie

    I have been following this since it happened and damn Murdoch for his greed. This needs to be in the public domain.

    I read and caught up tonight (thanks for the cut n paste)tears anger, memories of hospital passed and the knowledge that this is a survivor speaking. I don't care if she never joins the movement or brings our lives into a brighter light. I just want this increadibly articulate, talented woman to survive and find that she is still who she was.

    Tom
    Tinbasher
    The Lake District UK

  6. #16
    The next one:

    Progress in the Pool

    Something is stirring in these long, heavy, paralysed legs of mine. It really is. I announce this with intense trepidation, because I am aware it may all come to nothing – may indeed be the cruellest of tricks my body could play on me – but I desperately want to tell other spinal injury patients never to stop fighting or hoping. I also owe an update to the multitude of Times readers who have been sustaining me with their letters since my accident.
    At the beginning of April, when I was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, I was suffering from a serious fracture of the C6 vertebra in my neck and a secondary, lesser, fracture lower down, at vertebra T12. My body was utterly lifeless from the top of the chest down; my hands, although moving, were twisted and powerless. Only my right arm, right thumb and first two fingers still recognisably belonged to me. Things, to put it mildly, looked exceedingly gloomy.
    Last week, exactly two and a half months to the hour that I fell off my horse, I stood upright in the hydrotherapy pool, a float around my armpits, and peered down through the water at my feet, which were resting on the bottom. Even being vertical, sustained by the buoyancy of the water, was a fantastic enough feeling after ten weeks spent on my back like a stranded beetle. But what happened next transcended fantastic.
    Try lifting your feet and knees, one leg at a time, said my physiotherapist. And you know what? It happened. Can I describe to you the sensation of looking down and seeing myself walking on the spot – wonkily, and in fragile slo-mo, but nevertheless at my command? Seeing legs which I had feared might be profoundly dead for ever move once again, like normal limbs? I don’t think I can, really. I can only say that my heart surged and I think I felt happier than I ever felt in my life, other than the day my son was born.
    The physio made me try other things. Sinking my knees until my heels were on the bottom, then pushing up, springing onto my toes. Obligingly, on command, my upper body bobbed several inches out of the water. He turned me on my back and asked me to scissor my legs, as in back crawl. Again, peering in fearful amazement down over my collar, I could see my legs flickering a few feeble inches up and down when I asked them.
    There are caveats. Big caveats. Although I was instructing my legs to move, I could not feel the response. Unless I can see the movement, I am not aware it is happening – a condition known as proprioception. This surely does not bode well for the future running of marathons. Often too, the movement is aided by spasm, which means it doesn’t really count. It is also the case that water removes gravity, and the movement may not be replicated out of the pool. Panting with exhaustion and exhilaration, I lectured myself with these cold realities to try to temper false hope as I was winched from the pool.
    But the movement persists on dry land as well. In function tests, I witness flickers in my feet when I try to lift them. When I lie on my back and my knees are raised, as in a childbirth position, I can pull them several inches towards my chest. If they are parted, I can make them move a little towards each other. My left leg, in particular, tries its best to respond; the right is much more grudging, hardly moving at all. Later on the day of my achievements in the pool, I discover I can flick my left leg a fraction forwards from my knee, like an overambitious toddler aiming at a football.
    In the past few days, too, I have started to feel my hips aching deep inside, as if feeling is returning there. It is a curse at night-time, when they set like rocks during the eight-hour intervals between turns by the nurses, and the hamstrings burn with cramp, but how can I complain at such good omens? I have begun to feel some back muscles ache too.
    Now, none of this means I will walk again. The odds remain against me. I am still a hoist-dependent blob, a “tetra”, unable to sit up in bed, or open a tube of face cream. My hands, as I type, are curled like claws. They remind me of the crippled pigeons you see in cities, creatures walking on stumps, hanging on long after they should have died. But generally I’m heading in the right direction, something which in the beginning seemed impossible. As well as being a testament to what an amazing place this spinal unit is, my progress must also demonstrate why no one with a spinal injury should ever give up.
    The classic test of the extent of spinal damage is sacral sparing, ie, evidence of rectal motor function or sensation, but of course I didn’t know this in the traumatic early days when I was found to have none. Sacral sparing is considered to indicate an “incomplete” cord lesion, which has the potential for recovery. If a patient has immediate paralysis and no sacral sparing, they are considered to be “complete”. Wheelchair-bound. Those words haunt spinal patients. Complete is final; incomplete means hope. I was diagnosed complete. With knobs on, it seemed.
    But when the forces ranged against you are overwhelming, mere survival becomes fulfilling; and classifications become mere challenges. What I have discovered, already, is that every single spinal injury is different, and recovers differently. I am indebted to the wonderful Annie, a Times reader, who sent me a John Masefield poem which says it best: “I have seen flowers come in stony places/ And kind things done by men with ugly faces,/ And the Gold Cup won by the worst horse at the races./ So I trust, too.”

  7. #17
    The next one:

    Life Audit

    The headline in the women’s magazine caught my eye. “On the singles’ scene, everyone’s standards are impossibly high. An encounter with a man without a full wax would be dating suicide.” Now, I know I’m a grumpy feminist with a broken body, but this outraged me on two levels: first, it’s grammatically ambiguous – is it the man who lacks the full wax or the woman? And second, who are these sad girls who believe it’s necessary to be perpetually smooth and hairless in order to conform to some male stereotype? What’s really absurd is that both sexes are complicit in the destructive myth that in order to succeed in a relationship, women must now adopt the conventions of porn stars.

    Nothing, take it from me, gives you a clearer perspective on society’s obsession with physical desirability than a date with spinal paralysis, although I imagine that suffering from other terrible illnesses must do the same. When one is fighting for one’s life or physical identity – not to mention lesser vital skills, such as learning to hold a large latte – there is something profoundly alienating about a world that increasingly judges people solely by their ever-readiness and suitability for sex. Nope, can’t quite rival Angelina Jolie in the lips or lusted-after stakes, but, you know what, this week, despite a debilitating urinary-tract infection, I’ve managed, for the first time, to shift my backside two inches along a bench, using my arms as levers. Sexy or what?

    I’ve always, it’s fair to say, had issues with women’s magazines, even when able-bodied, convinced that their multimillion pound industry hinges on making ordinary females feel insecure, self-critical and unattractive rather than encouraging them to be bold and happy in their own skins. But now that I’m a resident in a spinal unit, the screaming irrelevancy of so much of their output has become even more apparent. You are only a victim if you let yourself become one – so let’s worry about what matters in life, shall we, rather than “collagen micro-vibration” to tackle “dark circles” round your eyes, or “goodbye-cellulite ten-day serum”, or “20 reasons why your man cheats on you”, or the lack of the latest bondage shoes in your wardrobe? Why, I could start a delightfully sick beauty magazine of my own. Lose two stone in ten weeks without trying! Get rid of those beastly bat-wing arms! Grow long, unblemished nails! Get rid of those chunky calves! Have more me-time! Make your man pay you more attention! It’s easy – all you have to do is break your neck.

    Now I don’t want to sound too hair-shirted about all this. It’s nice to look good and be admired. But there is absolutely no doubt that when something as catastrophic as paralysis strikes, it completely alters your view, and your family’s and close friends’ view, of what really matters in life. And probably top of the What No Longer Matters list are the various shallow insanities of the fashion and beauty industry, and our obsession with being thin.

    There are loads of other things, too, that have occurred to me over the past few weeks. People who moan all the time about their life or their job or their relationship. You don’t like it, do something about it. Leave. Confront it. Retrain. But do something. Appreciate the fact that you have a body that works and the chance of a full life. Don’t waste it moaning.

    Ditto for those who complain about the rain. I lie in bed at night and yearn for the feel of rain on my face, a scouring wind in the small of my back or the smell of the grass after a shower. Weather of any kind, when you are closeted long-term in a hot hospital, becomes like another desperate, missing sensation, a distant memory of how life used to be.

    I asked my family how their attitudes to life had changed. They said, primarily, that their perspective of time had changed radically. Being late, rushing, getting stuck in traffic jams, missing phone calls – these things didn’t matter any more. (I put only one condition on this: in hospital, I suffer from wheelchair rage when I am late for the gym or hand therapy.) We agreed that the list should also include getting upset about everything from coffee spilt on white designer-sweatshirts to anxiety about social status; untidy houses; unhoovered carpets; the need to own a swanky car; bumps and scratches on paintwork; fashionable holiday destinations; queues; carbon-neutral anything.

    Other things not to worry about? All the things the consumer society has conspired to make us fret totally unnecessarily about: new sofas; curtains that match; break-the-bank kitchens; service in restaurants; crowded trains; snobbery of all kinds. Damage your spine and you are freed of all these hassles in an instant, liberated from the supreme irrelevancies that clutter all our lives.

    With devastating clarity you come to realise that what does matter, of course, is life stripped down to real things – not just things as basic as mobility and health, or the ability to feed yourself, but also people who love you; kindness from unexpected quarters; a reassertion of how basically good humanity is (and believe me, it is); generosity of spirit; a sense of the ridiculous; well-written books; financial security; the ability to communicate; access to peace and quiet. I’m sure the list will grow longer as my rehabilitation progresses.

    A footnote. Seeing as this is sentimental Britain, lots of readers have contacted me wondering what happened to my horse. He was totally unhurt in the accident – he merely refused unexpectedly at a small jump – and has been looked after by a kind friend while I have lain and fretted about finding a good home for him. He is 16 years old, and therefore this was much more of a challenge than it would be for a younger horse. The wonderful news is that he has gone to a great trekking home in the Highlands to serve as a well-schooled hack. Real picture-postcard stuff – all off-road riding among mountains and pine trees and purple heather, and no jumping. Hope that makes everyone happy.

  8. #18
    Another:

    Some days all the fight goes out of me

    ‘I have just enough finger-power to turn the radio on and sip NHS tea from a mug with a special handle. Hooray. Rejoice’
    Times columnist Melanie Reid broke her neck and back after falling from a horse in April. Writing from hospital, she’s finding it hard to stay positive in the face of recent setbacks.

    “You always seem so strong and cheerful,” the friend said. Well, I’m not, so maybe it’s time I wrote about it. Some days all the fight goes out of me. I can feel my hope and resolve – all the stuff people credit me with, the front I try to maintain for family and friends – desert me with terrifying speed. I become just one more scared inmate of a spinal unit, overwhelmed with the catastrophe I face. On days like these, being paralysed is just so hard. So incomprehensibly hard. The helplessness, the frustrations, the discomfort, the snail’s pace, the useless fingers, the sense of loss, the poignantly spotless white soles of my training shoes, the horror of years of semi-dependency and hassle and incontinence to come – these realities suddenly press down upon me inescapably. That’s when I think, I can’t cope with this. But I have to. All of us in here have to.

    I still have dreams where I can walk (they say it takes two years before you start dreaming of yourself in a wheelchair). Last night, I dreamt I was in the kitchen at home, and I stood up and walked hesitantly around holding on to the worktops while my husband beamed with happiness. In another dream, the same thing happened in the ward – I was able to hobble around helping my fellow patients with all the little things the nurses are too busy to do. What makes these dreams so cruel is that, in them, I say to myself, beware, don’t be fooled, this is just a dream, and then, still in the dream, I convince myself that it’s not. And then I wake up. And nothing has changed: it’s Waiting for Godot for the paralysed. I am still stuck in bed in a busy, noisy ward waiting for the nurses to come and wash and dress me and get me up.

    Oh, nights may be long but, by God, mornings are the worst: the utter frustration of lying like a lump of meat waiting to be processed. In the two hours it takes me simply to be toileted and put into T-shirt and joggers, I used to feed, muck out and turn out two horses, shower, dress, put on make-up, drive an hour to work and devour the news agenda at my desk. Now the only thing I can do for myself over the same time frame, if I’m lucky and my bedside trolley hasn’t been moved, is to reach for my headphones and retreat into the Today programme. I have just enough finger-power to turn the radio on and sip pishy NHS tea from a mug with a special handle. Hooray. Rejoice. Sound the vuvuzelas.

    Why the down mood? I am beset by abbreviations. The DVT (deep vein thrombosis) of last week has been joined by another UTI (urinary tract infection), caused by being permanently catheterised, which has turned my legs to rock. Hot, buzzing, spasming rock, if you can imagine such a thing. I cannot do half the things I managed last week in the gym and am enjoying the fourth lot of antibiotics since I started rehab.

    Why, if things go on like this, I may have to sit my HADS (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) again, and answer such asinine questions as, “I still enjoy the things I used to enjoy – a) definitely as much, b) not quite so much, c) only a little or, d) hardly at all”; or “I feel as if I am slowed down – a) nearly all the time, b) very often, c) sometimes or, d) not at all.” My personal favourite? “I get a sort of frightened feeling as if something awful is about to happen – a) very definitely and quite badly, b) yes, but not too badly, c) a little, but it doesn’t worry me or, d) not at all.” This is an internationally standardised depression questionnaire of 14 boxes to tick – and who would ever have thought health service bureaucrats everywhere had such a fantastic sense of irony in them?

    Actually, one of the few laughs I’ve had recently has been learning about the condition autonomic dysreflexia, awareness of which is drummed into people with high-level spinal injuries. Basically, because you’re paralysed, you can’t feel if you’ve fractured a leg or blocked your bladder or whatever, and your body can sometimes over-react to such events by going dysreflexic. The symptoms of this are a massive leap in blood pressure, a pounding headache, flushed skin from the level of your neck break up, and – this is the best bit – a sudden intense feeling of “impending doom”. In short, if ignored, you die.

    Dear friends who have braved the risk and taken me for a brief taxi outing are entrusted with pills to administer in such emergency circumstances – the type, as in the corniest spy movies, where you bite into the capsule and swallow the contents. “Any sense of impending doom?” they ask, straight-faced, at regular intervals.

    Generally, during spells like this week, I hide away from communication. I have hundreds of e-mails to answer and so many lovely, lovely letters I want to reply to, but do not yet have the emotional or physical wherewithal. Please forgive me, everyone. But one-fingered typing is exhausting and writing, ditto.

    I have two minor successes to report. One, I can now, by virtue of sheer bloody-mindedness, stretch my fingers to do control-alt-delete and open Windows. Hugely grateful to all who alerted me to sticky keys, but I decided not to take the easy option. Two, I can now pull my phone from its case and use it, laboriously and painfully slowly, to text my family. And guess what I found – on my phone was the winner of the most crass voice message of the year, from a producer for Radio 5 Live, who got his researcher – Melinda, Samantha, Clarissa, something trilling like that – to call to say he’d come across a column I’d written and wanted me to “pop” into a BBC studio to do a 20-minute slot about my situation. No doubt to be sandwiched between a discussion on video refereeing and Raoul Moat’s fan club. Maybe not such a bad idea – while I was in the studio I could always do a little dance for the listeners.

  9. #19
    Another:

    Easy? Nothing in this new life is easy!

    Some weeks ago I suggested, as a result of my experiences, that no one should ever again take for granted the ability to sit up in bed, swing their legs over the edge and stand up. The simplest of things, in other words, are unattainable dreams when you are first paralysed. Well, after weeks of training, I am proud to say I have now relearnt the first bit. I have conquered what the spinal physiotherapists call “lie to sit”. It’s not pretty, but I can, by scrabbling behind myself with my elbows, and then laboriously straightening one arm after the other, prop myself into a sitting position in bed. The next stage, as soon as my biceps are a bit stronger, will be to drag my rock-like, DVT-blighted legs over the edge on to the floor.

    But there is, of course, a process to be got through in-between, and it’s called dressing yourself. After I broke my neck, several people warned me that I would be like a baby and, on much the same timescale, would be forced to relearn the most basic of functions. And so it proves to be – dressing, feeding, moving, toileting, like some cruel second infancy.

    I am not yet at the stage of the toddler who puts his wellies on the wrong feet, largely because I cannot reach my own toes with either shoe, nor hold the shoe open, but I am on the way. So it came to pass last week that, stark naked apart from my beloved thigh-high white anti-embolism stockings and a pair of mean-looking black fingerless gloves (slinky neoprene jobs * la Michael Jackson which protect my crippled hands), I wrestled fiercely with my paralysed limbs upon a hospital bed. Official dressing practice.

    “This must look,” I hissed to the occupational therapist who was directing me, “fairly kinky… fit for some sadomasochistic magazine. Have you got a camera?” And so the two of us corpsed with laughter behind the curtains, though I must add the swift rider, to avoid any misunderstanding on the part of my OT’s superiors, that actually she didn’t find it funny at all; she was just humouring me. All NHS staff, I suspect, like the police, have to pass regular QCIs (Quality Control Indicators) on how to celebrate all kinds of physical and sexual diversity, and to be indoctrinated with a fear of laughing at anything remotely politically incorrect. That’s why no one – honestly, would I lie to you? – as much as smiled when a fellow patient, bored out of his skull one Sunday evening, let a terrible scream echo down the ward: “Aaaaargh!! Nurse!!!! Come quick!!!! I can’t feel my legs!!!”

    Anyway, back to dressing practice.

    I managed to get a bra and T-shirt over my head and arms, although pulling them down my back was beyond me. Of pants, there are none. Verboten, for fear of compromising one’s precious skin. And trousers, I soon discovered, were really difficult to get on: one should first drag one’s legs into a frog position so the feet are within reach, then bunch up the trouser legs and force them over the toes and round the heels. I failed miserably because my legs were set in rigor mortis. After that, it should be a relatively easy task. Easy? Nothing in this new life is easy – to roll back and forth, stuffing one’s gripless fist inside the trouser waistband to pull them up. The whole process took, oh, about an hour and left me exhausted. How will I ever cope with this chronically slow pace of life?

    But the good news is that I am now transferring daily on and off the bed in the gym and, by the end of the week, I should be able to do the same in the ward, night and morning, under the supervision of the nurses. No more hateful hoisting, in other words, although help with dressing will be necessary for a good while yet.

    There is a car, an engine-less Fiat Punto, in the gym, into which people practise transferring from their wheelchairs in preparation for life outside. For months I have watched enviously as my fellow patients have learnt to scoot in and out, first to the passenger seat, then to the driver’s seat – and now it is my turn. Getting my feet over the sills by myself is impossible, but, that apart, the transfer is easier than getting on and off a bed, partly because there are things to grab if you collapse forward into the foot well, and also because the car seat is firm and your hand does not sink when you lift yourself.

    I find that sitting in a vehicle, even one without a bonnet, is like a flashback to a lost life, and resolve that the next time I go home it will be as a passenger in the family car, and not, as last time, in my wheelchair in the adapted van so kindly lent to us by a friend. I even promise not to criticise my husband’s ditzy parking. (It will be hard, but I promise.)

    The downside of all this transferring is that it puts strain on the muscles in my arms, shoulders and neck, which as a result are causing me pain for the first time. At least I hope that’s what it is. The numbness in my arms also seems to have increased. I am beset in the night with fears that I am tearing at the vulnerable nerves around the fracture, and may lose precious arm function as a result.

    There has been a large exodus of rehabilitated patients from the unit over the past two weeks, among them many of my mates. In my institutionalised state, I feel bereft, like a little girl at boarding school whose best pals have left. The dorm is full of new inmates and their families: poor, shell-shocked people still struggling to come to terms with the catastrophe that has befallen them. Bewilderment, grief, anger, frustration, often misdirected towards the staff, swirls around like low cloud. This is a wonderful place, regarded as the best spinal unit in the UK, but the newcomers need time to work that out for themselves. I sigh like a tedious old-timer and retreat behind my headphones.

  10. #20
    Last one for today!

    It’s sometimes hellish and frustrating, but this is not terminal cancer or dementia. Things will improve

    Times columnist Melanie Reid broke her neck and back after falling from a horse in April. She writes for the Magazine from hospital, where an urban fox causes her to reflect on the right to live – and die.

    My bed has been moved next to the window, allowing me to enter the great debate about urban foxes. In front of where I sit and write is the hospital perimeter, a ten metre buffer of hedge, trees and railings, beyond which the traffic thunders along a dual carriageway. Into this tiny, private nature reserve of mine, twice a day, ventures a pathetic little vixen – limping, thin, mangy-coated, hardly bigger than a large cat. She sniffs the ground fruitlessly for anything edible, meets my eyes and gazes at me coolly from two metres away, crouches for a pee and hobbles miserably on. Chronically malnourished and sick, she brings home the reality of life for the average urban fox.

    Better off shot than scratching that kind of wretched existence, I thought when I saw her, and then, for the first time ever in this particular moral debate, stopped myself. See yourself through the fox’s eyes, Mrs Arrogant, Mrs Former Rider to Hounds. From the animal’s side of the window, she’s looking in on an equally wretched human – with an existence far more curtailed and unnatural than hers. Why, in terms of relative freedoms, the vixen has the edge; she can at least limp away. And for all I know, her prospects, taking her chances against starvation, cars and airgun-wielding residents of Govan, in this particularly salubrious part of Glasgow, may well be better than mine. In fact, do I have much right, in the crippled state I’m in, to suggest that any other creature should be euthanased on the grounds of diminished quality of life?

    The right to die, let alone euthanasia, fairly predictably, are issues you don’t hear openly spoken about in hospital, though among us patients there is the occasional private chat about the value of our lives now, and whether we would choose to end them. One definitely toys with the intellectual concept of suicide, even if only to dismiss it. All of us who have been through the high dependency ward in the spinal unit have heard the shouts in the dark, all variations on the theme of “Get me out of here. Give me a pill. Shoot me now. I can’t stand another effing night of this.” I used to lie and listen to these desperate cries and feel really envious at the lack of inhibition: I wanted to shout out things like that just as much as they did, but my upbringing prevented me.

    I lie. I do remember shouting out once, one Sunday morning when I was particularly confused with morphine and steroids and the ward was seriously short-staffed. I lay and called and called but no one came, not even to offer a kind, quick word, and I recall – somewhat to my shame – that I shouted, “Now I understand why people go to Switzerland!” Still no one came; and I suspect the tears I cried then were the most bitter I’ve ever shed. But these moments pass. And as the old truism goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

    Did I mean what I said about Switzerland? Of course I did. Even now, some months down the road and back in full possession of both my marbles and a strong desire to live, I still mean it. I defy anyone who has lain motionless in the immediate aftermath of a broken spine not to contemplate whether it is worth going on.

    As a firm advocate of the right to choose when to end your own life, and someone who has written in those terms fairly frequently in this newspaper, I have not failed to appreciate the irony of my present situation. What has happened to me has not changed my utmost belief in a human’s right to die. But what has astonished me is how swiftly I realised, no matter how serious my condition, that it wasn’t an option I could remotely consider at this time. The one thing I had to do for the people who love me, having already put them through such trauma, was stay with them. If I did not have a wonderful family, I might think differently, but right now life has never seemed more precious. Sometimes hellish, yes, and utterly frustrating, but precious all the same. And obviously newly paralysed patients get depressed, but they hopefully come to realise that they are on an upward curve. This is not terminal cancer or dementia. Things will improve; life will get better and easier. And if it doesn’t, well, the option not to go on is always there. It helps to know that.

    What is important is to give everything time. On the days when despair tugs at me because I can see no improvement anywhere, I tell myself sternly that nerves grow at a rate of 1mm a day and I am in this for the long haul. And that even if I never get back on my feet, then at least I’m still around with a lot of love to give and take.

    So I guess I’ve reached a most unlikely kind of pact with my scabby fox. I will not impose my totalitarian views on her right to exist; and she in turn will remind me that one does not have to be a perfect specimen to scratch their way through life. We gaze at each other as equals. May her life be worthwhile; may her cast-off fish suppers be tasty ones.

    There proves to be less sentimentality about foxes among the staff here than I expected. (This, after all, being the country where you can buy rear wheels for dogs with paralysed legs.) Some of the nurses say how they hate the screaming of the cubs in their street, like the sound of babies being murdered; and one of the consultants in the unit tells me how in the leafy West End of the city, the brake cables on his car, and those of several of his neighbours, have been gnawed through by fox cubs unable to find sufficient tree roots on which to hone their teeth.

    Sounds almost like organised revenge on the part of the urban fox, doesn’t it?

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