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

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Assistant Editor: Domestic violence is no petty matter

Siobhan Norton
 

There’s nothing wrong with GM

Steve Connor
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried