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Grandpa

Posted Oct 02 2012 3:37pm
A football appears suddenly in the street, flying out from between rows of parked cars, packed tightly in the premium spaces. The houses in this area have driveways the size of small streets, but still, cars are parked along the roads. Commuters perhaps, using the rare free parking to abandon their cars and walk the relatively short distance to the nearest station. 

The chance of a child following that ball are high so I hit the brakes and stop the car. I'd rather have one patient waiting a little longer than have to deal with an extra patient and spend a lifetime asking what-ifs. The ball stops in the middle of road, dancing a jig with the centre-line, playing a game of indecision.  Seconds pass, but no child appears; no-one seems to want to retrieve the lost ball. It's an unusual one too: Pink. I'm sure someone is interested in getting it back, but time being of the essence, I get out of the car, move the ball to the pavement and head back on route to the call which is on the parallel street. 

I pull up to the gates, large, ornate and ostentatious, push the button on the intercom and wait. After a few seconds, the gates swing open like a pair of open arms, welcoming anyone who is granted access. The driveway is smoothly paved, as though it had only been tarmacked today and is lined on both sides by pristine grass that looks as though each blade has been measured with a ruler to ensure that they are all of the exact same height. 

The door, an immense work of art designed to impress as well as intimidate, is opened by a member of staff, perhaps a butler. Stepping in to the house is an exercise in wonder and envy. Every surface is polished, marble floors are scrubbed to perfection. A spotless kitchen the likes of which couldn't even enter my wildest dreams is just within view. 
"This way please." 
He leads me down the corridor, past several reception rooms and to the back door of the house. It's inconsistent with everything else around. Just a simple, double glazed door leading from a corridor to the back garden, but as soon as it's opened, the grandeur returns. There's barely time to take it all in, the huge garden, the beautifully tended hedges and other plants. In the middle of it all there's a young girl lying on the grass quietly crying. 
Honey is six years old and as sweet as her name suggests. She's upset but not hysterical and is being comforted by her grandfather. He, in turn, is holding a wet tea-towel to her head. A crimson mark is starting to appear through the fabric. 
"Can I have a look, just to see what you've done?" 
Honey nods and I gently remove the towel. There's an open wound on her forehead that will need gluing or stitching back together and a quick check shows that there are no other injuries. She lets me bandage the wound without even the hint of a fuss. 
"It doesn't hurt me now," she says. "Grandpa told me that I was being brave. Am I really brave?" 
"You're braver than me! I bet I'd be crying a lot more than you if I got a bump like that on my head!"
"I'm not crying because I bumped my head. I told you. It doesn't really hurt me now." 
"Oh, really? So why are you crying?" 
"I was playing with Grandpa and we were throwing my favourite ball. Then Grandpa kicked it and it went over the wall and into the street!" 
Grandpa looked sheepish. 
"I'm sorry sweetheart! I promise we'll get you another one as soon as they've made your head better." 
"You promise?" 
"I promise. If the shops are still open when we're done, we'll go together." 
"OK. Let's go!" 
Honey jumped off the grass as if nothing was wrong and, with me having cancelled the ambulance, we headed for the car. It was only a mile to the hospital, ambulances were scarce as always, Grandpa was happy to take a booster seat with him and Honey was thrilled at the adventure. 
We walked into paediatrics and waited for a nurse to take a handover. Honey kept asking questions about what was going to happen, who the people in the department were, and if it was going to hurt when they fixed her head.
"Sometimes, it's like the Spanish Inquisition with that one!" Grandpa joked. "Always asking questions, always wanting to know more." 
"Guess she's a healthy six year old then," I said. 
"True, I suppose. Is it going to take long?" 
"I've no idea I'm afraid, but it doesn't look too busy." 
"Good." 
We stood in silence for some time, Honey taking in her new, temporary surroundings with Grandpa holding her hand. 
"Actually," Grandpa suddenly started, his voice quieter than before, "I've got one more question for you too." 
"Ask away." 
"Where on earth am I supposed to buy a pink football?" 
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