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

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

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
 

Costa Rica’s wildlife makes me mourn our paradise lost

Michael McCarthy
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence