Come to Your Senses

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His head throbbed and he could feel the bump below his matted, bloody hair. Something heavy pinned his legs to the floor. Needle-like pains shot up his spine. Everything hurt. Where was he? He couldn’t see a thing. It was as black as pitchblende on a dark night. He blinked. He blinked again – nothing.

Feeling tentatively down his leg, his fingers encountered the familiar worn wood of the heavy sideboard. It wasn’t polished or smooth but covered in dust. He could feel the tiny abrasive grains on its surface and, as he moved his hand, he could feel granules and even chunks of plaster all around him.

That was it! He remembered the explosion, but was that five, ten minutes ago – or was it longer?

In the lifeless darkness smelling of rotting cabbages, he listened -nothing – or was there a faint hissing sound like gas escaping from a fractured pipe? Surely, it couldn’t be true but the unpleasant smell was unmistakably a mercaptan – bad eggs or rotting cabbage – typical of the ingredient added to gas to warn of its presence.

He tried to wriggle his left leg, but it was held fast. He was trapped like a child in a bombed Aleppo building or worse like the Bangladeshi who had lain undiscovered in the collapsed multi-level clothing factory for seven days waiting for his rescuers.

He thought of his cell phone. He reached into his pocket and his fingers savoured the reassuringly smooth surface of the rectangle of hope. Dextrously, as on a drunken night out when he would phone for a taxi, he manipulated his mobile into the correct position for dialling.

As he pressed the button for help, his error came to him in a flash just like the flash all around which for the second time shook the building.

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How to Look After a Baby

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He was just three months old when Alice needed a babysitter for the day. Archibald, poor lad, a sign of things to come, I wondered, had been a perfect baby – up to that point – Alice told me.

‘Looking after a baby is easy. There’s so many books on the subject: “Looking after your first baby”, “Feeding for life”, and’, she said with an exultant air, ‘the Holy Grail, “Angela’s baby compendium – The complete guide for those difficult early years”. I’ve put it in the plastic box, just in case.’ As she spoke, she deposited a large, pale blue, plastic box, bigger than the child on the kitchen table. ‘Nappies, wet wipes, bottle feeders and food,’ she added without opening the box.

Alice also gave me clear and carefully written instructions in ink on a single sheet of paper. I glanced at the sheet and noted at the bottom her work telephone number along with her doctor’s number and the National Health Service emergency helpline.  As a new and protective mother, she had tried to consider every situation. She ignored the fact that my wife and I had raised three children ourselves, in the dark ages, before she was born! Perhaps, I should more correctly say my wife had raised… but I would cope; hey, I’d been through it too. Continue reading “How to Look After a Baby”