Thursday, 28 May 2009


One of the great things about being mobile was that we visited the family, most of whom lived in Kent, a lot more than hitherto. It was on one of these trips that fate dealt us another blow.
My sister Tina (Croom) and her husband David lived in Erith, Kent. They had been very good to us when John was hospitalised, sharing the task of looking after Lynne with another of my sisters Sandie (Weechuff). It was good now to be able to visit them as a complete family and just for pleasure.
Tina and I were in the house, chatting and making tea, while Arthur and David played in the garden with the three children. They were taking turns to throw the children up in he air, and swing them round. Arthur swung John and, ever mindful of his bad legs, lowered him to the floor. As his feet hit the ground, John started crying and yelling. I rushed out to find David looking very worried and Arthur cradling a very distressed John in his arms.
‘Give him to me’ I said, gently taking him from Arthur… I looked down at his leg while I held him close trying to comfort him. I could see that the shape wasn’t right. ‘I think he’s got a broken leg’ I whispered, so as not to frighten John.
‘It can’t be, I was being very gentle with him,’ said Arthur, who was so upset to think that he was responsible for John’s pain. Tina rang for an ambulance and both Arthur and I were thankful that it had been Arthur’s turn to do whatever it was that caused the accident, and not David’s. Poor David was shocked and worried, and he wasn’t even responsible.
I went in the ambulance with John, and Arthur followed behind in our car. Since we weren’t au fait with the area, Arthur had great difficulty in keeping up with the ambulance, especially as it went through red traffic lights.
The doctor in the Casualty Department confirmed our worst fears. John had, indeed, broken his leg. The thought of him being in a Kent hospital for weeks, with Arthur and I in London, and the other two children with Tina and Sandie, didn’t bear thinking about. In any case, we wanted, above all else, for John to be cared for by Mr. Lloyd-Roberts at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.
The Erith hospital agreed that, instead of plastering John’s leg, they would splint it so that we could lay him in the back of the estate car and drive to Great Ormond Street. They phoned he Children’s Hospital to let them know that we were coming and, after a quick phone call to Tina to arrange for Philip and Lynne to be left for the time being, we set off. The journey was a horrible nightmare for all of us. John’s leg was stretched out and on either side were wooden splints held in place by bandages. Arthur had to drive extremely carefully so that John’s leg wasn’t jolted by any humps or holes in the road. Each time the car jerked a little, John would scream out. All I could do to help him was to stroke his hair, hold his hand, and tell him it would soon be all right.
It was one o’clock in the morning when we finally arrived. John was taken into X-ray and we waited nervously for news. We were so worried in case his first operation had been ‘undone’ and he had been set back to square one again. The doctor told us that John would be put into traction and plaster, and we would know more the next day.
We crept into the ward to say goodnight to him. He was once again under sedation, tucked up in a hospital bed, in a ward that was dark and very quiet. With a lump in my throat I kissed him and we whispered ‘Good-night, God bless,’ and then we slipped silently away, and drove home to an unexpectedly empty and lonely flat. Before going to bed I went into the children’s room. I gazed at the empty beds and the rumpled nightclothes that had been discarded so excitedly that morning. How could such a lovely day out end in such a cruel, miserable manner?
It turned out that no one was really to blame for the accident. While playing, John had landed on the side of his foot. Because he had a steel plate fixed to the thighbone, the bone wasn’t able to bend as it normally would. Instead, the plate acted as a lever and just snapped John’s bone in half. It was one of those one in a million chances that happened.
John wasn’t too long in hospital this time and, in due course, the plaster was removed and we all settled back into some sort of normality.
To be continued…


Babs-beetle said...

Oh I remember that so well! Poor John. That was all we seemed to say about John for so long eh? He certainly had more than his fair share of hospital stays!

granny grimble said...

Some people are just accident and disaster prone. Such was John. He didn't grow out of it for years. His best one was getting shut in a zoo cage with a real fully grown bad tempered male lion! Not a joke but quite true.

Croom said...

Yes I have to agree and say ‘Poor John’ I do remember it well, I also felt so sorry for the other two children, they were frightened and missed you. But like all children, they soon settled down to playing the next day. We took them out to a park with a big lake and have some lovely photos.

Oooh I can’t wait to hear about the John and the Lion Leeta.

granny grimble said...

If you have any photos from when you looked after the children, I would really like copies. I don't know how we would have managed in those dark days without you and Sandie. One day I'll tell you about the lion, and about when his leg got stuck in a moving lift!

weechuff said...

This episode brought a lump to my throat. To see children in real pain, and you can't do anything to help, is awful. It is surprising that you and Arthur didn't turn white very early on! I have never heard the one about the lion, so look forward to that story.

Swubird said...


Wow, what a story. As I read through it I couldn't help thinking how different the times are now than when we were all young. If you lived over here and you took your little kid to the hospital and told the doctor that you had accidentally broken his leg while playing a little too rough, they'd probably lock you up. Things have gotten that insane. But I'm glad everything turned out okay.

Happy trails.

granny grimble said...

You are quite right there. I hadn't thought about it till you mentioned it Swubird, but that is probably what would happen here now. At least the doctors were wise enough to suss out just how it happened, but it's quite scary to think how it might have been!

Jay said...

Wow .. poor little guy! He really did go through the mill as a child, didn't he?

The comments about what would happen now, are regrettably true. Our boys had the usual bumps and bruises as children, one time I took Son No. 1 in to casualty because he'd fallen downstairs at the age of about 18mths and wouldn't stop screaming. As it turned out he hadn't done any damage, but was one of those kids who yelled blue murder when he was hurt. But they stripped him naked. I was so naive I didn't realise why, till later. They were looking for signs of abuse, thinking perhaps I'd done it to him on purpose. Sad days we live in, and it's probably worse now. :(

granny grimble said...


I wonder how many parents get wrongly accused of child abuse. It must be their worst nightmare. It must also make parents very nervous of taking their children to A & E. I know I wouldn't feel very confident that all would go well. What a sad, sad, place to be in, especially when most mothers would give their life for their babies!

granny grimble said...


I really don't know how parents cope sometimes. Children expect you to be able to solve all their problems and pain because you are called Mum or Dad. I can be so hard, as both you and I know.
One day I'll tell of the Lion!

Sandi McBride said...

There's nothing in the world that hurts so badly as not being able to take a child's pain away, especially when that child is your own...can't wait to hear more from you!

granny grimble said...

How Lovely to have you visit again Sandi. I do hope you're feeling a lot better now. I had my work cut out wth my little John I can tell you. He seemed to be accident prone as a small child. If there was something to fall into, over, or off, he would find it!

Swubird said...

Granny, where are you?