Mary Dejevsky: What I've learnt from being on crutches

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

This is dedicated to all those London cabbies who took pity on me as I tried to hail them with one crutch, while leaning on the other – and especially to those who didn't treat "Are you OK getting in?" as a rhetorical question until I had inelegantly crawled inside. Having a broken foot, I learnt, may not be wonderful for walking, but it's brilliant for taxi conversation.

What you first realise is the educating influence of David Beckham – clearly an under-used resource. Every cab driver is an expert in metatarsal injuries; from which is the worst to break, to how long it should take to mend (mine, alas, has been slower). Every other driver seemed to have broken a foot himself. "You know how I did it? I have a caravan, and I was getting out of it in the dark, and some tosser had taken my steps away." Another told a convoluted story of how, in the small hours, he struck a stag – "you know, antlers and all" – on the M4 near Swindon, ended up with his car facing the wrong way in the fast lane, managed to steer to the hard shoulder in one piece, but then fell into a ditch as he got out to answer a call of nature ...

A fair number related, shamefacedly, how they had broken limbs playing football beyond an advisable age. Others vouchsafed wisdom acquired from passengers: "You know what one doctor told me? Most people who do their back in do it tying their shoelaces." There's also something of an anti-ski club among cabbies on the Gatwick run. "You see them come back, every day. They've got legs, arms, you name it, in plaster, sticking out all angles, in a terrible state. It's not worth it."

Wielding crutches turns out to be a common experience – almost a life-skill, you might say. "Have you noticed?" one driver hazarded almost before I was seated. "They just don't get out of the way; they waltz along, all together or yacking into their phones, and they can knock you over." Which is true. Your average pedestrian hasn't a clue that you can't get out of their way. The obstacle-strewn world of hospital out-patients is a particular threat. Even nurses don't seem to understand that they'll have to move out of your path, or their metatarsals risk ending up as damaged as yours.

The good news is that I have now graduated from crutches to a walking-stick; the bad news is that the cab conversation has dried up. A stick just doesn't have the same cachet.







A lesson in interviewing from the old master



My late father had it in for David Frost. He couldn't abide the man. He found him, I think, arrogant, louche, coasting along on a wave of celebrity (and cash) that he had put no hard work into earning. I inherited that view. So when "Frostie" was recruited to the London start-up of Al Jazeera television's English service, I silently joined the chorus of those who saw a rather sad, tired star in the descendent.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera has, rightly, received plaudits for its coverage from the shifting conflict zones of the Maghreb and the Gulf in recent weeks. But Frostie deserves his war medal, too. I've caught by chance a few of his Frost Over the World programmes. One included an adviser to the Libyan opposition, Omar Turbi, and two Conservative MPs on either side of the Libya debate: John Baron, one of the few who voted against intervention, and the ubiquitous ex-Afghan regional governor Rory Stewart. This turned out to be a hugely civilised, informative and thoughtful discussion. Frost gave his interviewees time; he made no attempt to provoke a fight, and he listened. You realised that there really is another way of conducting interviews than the wham-bang pugilism now in fashion.

It's said that they are looking for more star power to help out Newsnight on the evenings Jeremy Paxman is off-duty. How about making this old Frostie's last gig?







A BBC appointment that should be questioned



The BBC has strict rules about who can enter its competitions. They include a clause such as, "Entrants must not be BBC employees or their close relatives ..." So why doesn't the same apply to, say, membership of the licence-payers' watchdog? I only ask because Diane Coyle, an economist and former Independent colleague, has just been named deputy to Lord Patten, the new chairman of the BBC Trust – and I think this is wrong. The recommendation, by the Culture Secretary, must be confirmed by the Queen, but there is no mechanism for anyone to voice objections and no reason why her nomination would not succeed.

My opposition has nothing to do with Coyle's merits, which are many. (One of the more pleasurable interludes from my 1990s stint in Washington was a couple of hours spent shooting the breeze in a London wine bar with Diane, among others, exchanging views about the transatlantic culture and economy gap). It's because the BBC Trust is supposed to be the public's watchdog and Coyle is married to a member of the BBC staff – the journalist Rory Cellan Jones. This is just how social mobility – promoted with great fanfare by Nick Clegg yesterday – stalls.

Coyle quite properly declares her relationship in the list of members' interests. It was no disqualification when she first became a trustee four years ago, and it is not against the rules now. But it should be. Of 12 members of the BBC Trust, there are two – the other being Dame Patricia Hodgson, a former senior BBC employee and recently much else, who, I imagine, qualifies for a BBC pension – with close connections to the Corporation. That is two fewer trustees who might be seen as genuinely representing us.



React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: odd pub names, final polls in Scotland and war historians

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week