Mrs Weston gives the belt on her dressing-gown a hard tug and a double knot, like she’s about to abseil out of the window rather than sit on the sofa.
‘You should have seen this place,’ she says. ‘Like a murder scene. Blood everywhere, on the carpets, the sofa, a trail of it through to the kitchen. I was soaked through, of course. And there were all these bowls dotted about that the paramedics used to drop the tissues in – my best cooking bowls, I hasten to add. When Val my domestic came by the next day she almost fainted backwards out of the door. I told her I’d get the professionals in but she said no, she could handle it. And she did. Which is odd, when you think she never really dusts properly. She doesn’t move things, you see. She dusts around. Anyway, I’d been on the phone to my friend Janice for about an hour, and I’d just said goodbye and hung up when I felt this strange sensation – a loosening is the only way I can describe it – and then the blood started to run out of my nose, just as if someone had turned on a tap. When it wouldn’t stop I rang for an ambulance, who came round pretty quick. They weren’t at all thrown by my predicament, and I must say I was impressed by how thorough they were – even though I rather wish they’d found something else to put the tissues in. So – there we were – a paramedic hanging on to my nose and chatting about this and that, until after about half an hour the whole thing seemed to have stopped. My blood pressure and everything else was fine, so they tried to persuade me to stay at home. But you see, there were no guarantees the nose wouldn’t start up again, and I was scared when they left I’d be on my own. And I’d lost so much blood. The hospital’s on Black Watch or Black Alarm or something. You’ll be waiting hours. Well – they weren’t wrong. I was put on a chair in a waiting room and there I stopped. Six hours under the clock covered in blood without so much as a nod. Eventually this young woman came over, and she said did I have anyone with me. You never hear about these little acts of kindness, do you? I asked her if she could get me a cup of water, because I was so thirsty. She came back and said all the cups had run out, so she’d gone and bought me a bottle of water from a machine. I offered to pay her but she said no – it was her pleasure. Her pleasure! Honestly! I could have wept. She even helped me to the toilet. She was a true angel, despite the piercings. Anyway, after about eight hours I’d had enough. You see, the problem is, I’m part of that generation that accepts whatever happens to them. You wait your turn and you keep quiet. There’s an order to things. You respect those in authority. But even I could see it wasn’t working in my favour. I could see I was merging into the background. So when a doctor passed I reached out and I grabbed his trousers. And do you know, it worked! Because after he’d recovered from the shock of being assaulted by an old lady covered in blood – as soon as he heard how long I’d been sitting there and everything that had happened to me – he was appalled. He wheeled me straight in to a cubicle, and he even found me a lunch box, because I hadn’t had anything in so long. And when he heard the blood test still hadn’t been done – I’m on warfarin, you see – he ordered one of the staff to do it there and then. I asked him if he was going to put a camera up to have a look around, but he said no, that wouldn’t be necessary. Eventually a nurse came and told me a bed was available, and that was absolute heaven! I didn’t mind one bit that I was surrounded by demented patients, and the bed wasn’t what you might call comfortable. I was warm, I was lying down, and I had a button to press if the nose started up again. I managed to sleep for a couple of hours, and then in the morning they discharged me home. They’ve stopped my Warfarin and put me on something else. And there you are – it all seems to have settled down. Oh, for goodness sake! Over there, on the light switch! How Valerie missed that I’ll never know.’