Thursday, 21 April 2011

Discharge!

What a day! It’s 11pm, and I’ve only just got back home. We phoned Philip today, and were told that he was being discharged. He didn’t seem to have anyone to take him home, so Nathan and I offered to do the honours.


It must have been so unbelievably disorientating for him. When we arrived, I’m not sure he wanted to leave the hospital. I guess it must feel like a very safe place, when the outside world has been so cruel of late. I also feel it must be very hard when you can’t remember your attack; you don’t know if it was someone you knew; premeditated, or a random act of violence.

It took forever to pack the hospital room up. Philip had a proper little tuck shop going, made up of the bewildering amount of treats and food that people had brought for him in the weeks that he'd been in hospital. We filled an entire suitcase with biscuits and chocolate and gefilter fish, and then threw as much away. It then took forever to leave the hospital. The suitcases were heavier than cars, and the lifts at St Thomas’ took forever to arrive and then even longer to snake their way down to the ground floor. They were crowded and incredibly hot. Hell on earth.

We drove to Matt’s house to pick up Philip’s computer. En route, we were given a tour of central London, Philip telling us about the Great Exhibition in the 1850s, and the fact that whilst it was on, there were apparently countless sightings of unidentified silver flying objects shooting around in the sky above Hyde Park - long before the concept of UFOs. Philip continually talked about how beautiful London looked, and how wonderful the weather was. I got the strong impression that he was happy and grateful to be alive.  We arrived at Matt's and Nathan went off to see a friend in Streatham Common. Just after he’d left, we decided it was time to move on to Philip’s house and I realised with horror that I couldn’t find my keys. I assumed I’d locked them in the car.

We had to wait until Nathan arrived wherever he was going and then I had to get on a tube, all the way down to Balham in the very south of London and then take an over ground train to Streatham Common to collect his set.

The round trip took me two hours. In the meantime, Philip had to sit on Matt’s sofa twiddling his thumbs because all his suitcases were locked in the car. It was only when I arrived back in Baker Street that I realised Nathan had given me my keys and that he must have taken both sets by mistake.

By the time I’d got back to Matt’s, a group of Philip’s mates had assembled, including Boy George and we all had to cram into our little car to get back to Philip’s house. It was hugely surreal to look in my wing mirror and see George crammed between a suitcase and a girl whose name I’ve temporarily forgotten.

We took the suitcases up to Philip’s attic flat. He seemed distressed and asked us all to leave. He wanted to be on his own. I think he just wanted to hide away, really. We felt awful, not knowing whether to insist on staying. I think we all got the impression that he was going to have a good old cry. Poor bloke.

April 21st 1661 was a Sunday. It was the day before the Coronation and it did nothing but rain, which troubled everyone greatly. There was no weather forecasting, of course, in those days – and the roads were already knee deep in mud. Pepys went to see his parents and discovered the maid that they’d rowed so much about had been sacked, and replaced, unsurprisingly by one the father didn’t like. Pepys knew trouble was just around the corner!

On his way home, the streets were absolutely filled with people who were looking at the triumphant arches, those 100 foot high Coronation parade structures, which must have been so impressive for the day.

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