Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Dangers Of Too Much Time On One's Hands; And Of A Missing Sense Of Proportion

Honestly, take a screen away from a teenager and they don't know what to do with themselves. Josh is bored out of his mind.

"Do not look at the TV - at all - while I'm at work today," I say to him, when I take his breakfast upstairs to where he's lying prone in bed. "And don't even think about playing computer games."

"That's stupid," says Josh. "It can't do me any harm."

"Yes, it can," I say. "Read this, if you don't believe me."

I try to pass him the information sheet we got from the hospital. The one that warns people who have suffered a head injury about all the things they mustn't do in the first few days afterwards.

"I don't need to read it," says Josh. "You're just making it up, because you think I should be reading books."

"You can't do that either," says Max, taking the leaflet from me, and scanning its contents. "Bloody hell, Mol - look at this!"

He points to the second page, which carries an advert for a firm of litigators, urging victims of accidents to contact them to see if they can claim compensation. Josh is rather taken with the idea.

"Might pay for my clothes," he says. "And my watch - have you seen the state of that? It's been smashed to bits."

"I'll take some photos of you when your mother's at work," says Max. "And your damaged clothes and stuff. I might even wander down Park Street and take pictures of those drain covers while I'm at it."

"I think you'd do better to report the damn things to prevent anyone else having an accident," I say, but no-one's listening to me. Josh and Max are both too busy deciding what evidence they'll need to produce in court. They've got far too much free time on their hands.

Not that they'll admit anything of the sort if Josh does put in a claim for compensation: I know exactly who's going to end up dealing with all the correspondence that that will involve. And that person's name won't begin with a J, or end in an X. There's bound to be a Y in it, though.

On that cheerful note, I decide it's time to go to work, but I'm still really irritable by the time I get there. It must be some sort of weird reaction that I have to stress.

While an emergency is happening, I'm as cool as a cucumber but, afterwards, I'm like a bear with a sore head. Or like Josh, now I come to think of it.

"How's Josh?" says Greg, as if reading my mind. "Still in pain?"

"Yes," I say. "And also being one."

I feel a bit guilty as soon as I've said this out loud. Have I forgotten how frantic I was on the way to A&E already? Or how relieved I was that Josh wasn't the patient wearing the neck collar? I really need to get a grip.

"He should sue the Highways Department," says Greg. "Or whoever owns those drains."

"Oh, don't you start," I say. "You sound like Max. I'm sure he's turning into a usual suspect since he lost his job. I'm just worrying about Josh, and what the after-effects of his head injury might be. That's as much as I can cope with at the moment. Anything else would be too much."

"Like this bloody hay fever," says Greg, who never learns. "It's really getting me down, you know."

Vicky rolls her eyes, while I go into my office, and shut the door harder than is strictly necessary. Then I pick up the phone, and call home.

"Max," I say, when he finally answers. "When you've taken those photos of Josh's injuries, can you email them over to me?"

"Yes," says Max. "But why? Are you going to contact someone high up about his accident?"

"No," I say. "But I am going to use them to give someone lower down a sense of proportion."

I feel so much better once I've shown the photos to Greg. And, apparently, so does he.

There's no mention of his hay fever for the rest of the day, which is a big relief - until Mrs Watts phones and mentions her brain tumour, that is. Now I feel like a right drama queen. Does everything always have to be relative?

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