But you are a cripple, Blanche…


But you are a cripple, Blanche...

For the first time in three weeks, I have picked up my stick (lent to me by MacGuiver from the bar next door) and walked. Out there- outside. Yesterday I had my follow-up x.ray at a medical centre and in the afternoon, another visit to my GP to be signed back on for work, all things being well.

The x ray was a fairly efficient affair. We were sitting in a small bay with plastic seating, at right angles to a corridoor with many doors leading off it into various x-ray and consulting rooms. Along the corridoor hurtled medical staff in a self-important flurry, occasionally calling out names, then barking the order ´this way, please´. By the time I followed my nurse she had disappeared, and I stood peering into open doors, thinking ´yeah, but which way?….´ until she found me. Back in the waiting room I heard ‘Maria Milagros Martinez’ called out, and a woman of about 30 years old came forward. Mary Miracle Martinez. That means she was named in the eighties sometime. I understand older Spaniards having religious names – it was a decree of Franco´s that all babies christened after a certain date must have a religious name, hence the glut of Mary Josephs, Joseph Marys, Jesus, Mary of the snows, of the pains, Pains, Consolation, Immaculate, etc etc. But what were her parents thinking? Mary Miracle Martinez? Sounds like a specialist hooker or a girl who fires herself out of a cannon for a living. Nowhere near as bad, however, as my favourite ghastly name which is Circuncision, shortened to Circun. An old lady’s name originating in Andalucia, apparently, thankfully dying out these days.

Following the x ray I was told I could go home and it would be sent to my GP electronically. I asked for it to be sent that day so as not to waste a visit to my GP that afternoon and was assured it would be done that morning. Knowing in my gut that something in the process would screw up, I hobbled home. At the doctor’s later (by this time with a sore-ish foot due to all the walking) I was told the xray had been sent but in the wrong format and I’d have to go back again the next day. Deep breath….

Today I made a visit to work to sort our paperwork. I went by metro, perfecting my authentic Dr House limp with stick.


''Make your own cup of tea.''

Reactions to the stick are interesting. At the best of times it´s hard enough to get someone to give up their metro seat for you. I was offered a seat twice, once by an older gentleman and then by a young woman. Suddenly there were other walking wounded everywhere. In the carriage with me a young man with a wheelchair, another man at Sol metro station with a zimmer frame, a girl on crutches, in Plaza Lavapies another man resting on a bench with his crutches. As the metro carriage door opened and the wheelchair guy and I tried to leave, the usual press of bodies stopped us leaving before they piled into the carriage, and one bitter old cow tutted loudly at us as we tried to push pur way through and onto the platform. I reacted in true Spanish fashion, snapping at her,

´Well, let us get off first, then!’ Sometimes being half Spanish has its advantages- you are allowed to answer back, to have a damn good whinge when you need to, to push and shove, and you can permit yourself not to apologise when someone else shoulder barges you in the street.

After calling in to work I went to the office where the Ponce pays his rent and sorted that out for him. The doorman to the building rushed out of his little booth as I was leaving- a red-faced balding midget with a huge grin, and asked me how I´d done it, then why didn’t I have a man to do these things for me, then next time I should call him and he’d lift heavy things for me, finishing our short chat with the statement ´God, but you’re gorgeous, you are.’ Thanks very much, but no thanks….

It feels good to be out and about again. It´s as though I have been away in another country, or in a chrysalis, emerging blinking into the light. Over the past few weeks it has become winter. The walk back from the x ray yesterday morning was glorious. My appointment was at 8.10, and I saw the sun rise pink over the Puerta de Toledo. The streets are quieter, the terraces are almost all brought inside by now and there are even a handful of Christmas decorations up. Winter in Madrid is bitterly cold but exhilerating. It felt good to be back. Enough of this crippled house arrest. I think I might keep the stick though, as an affectation, and as a handy way to get a seat on the metro.

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