‣ The phone rang; it was my friend Ronnie.
“How are you,” he asked.
“Great,” I said. “That is, apart from breaking my ankle this morning.”
“Great! I’ve got this idea for a film based on my life.”
“I’m sure the life-story of a chartered accountant from Edgware will break box-office records. Did you hear what I just said?”
“The script is coming along very slowly.”
“I broke my ankle this morning.”
“You ride your Vespa too fast.”
“Thank you, Ronnie, for your outpouring of human sympathy. I didn’t fall off my scooter.”
“So how did you break your ankle?”
“I fell off the escalator at Bond Street tube station.”
“Was it the one going down to the Central Line?”
“Central Line, Jubilee line…Shlubilee line! What does it matter which escalator!?”
“It’s a very long, steep one, the one that goes down to the Central Line at Bond Street… it gives me vertigo.”
“If you really want to know, it was the short, 15-stair one to the ticket hall. I’ve taken it a million times.”
“So why did you fall off?
“Why did I fall off? It wasn’t a suicide attempt Ronnie! How do I know why I fell off? ”
“You weren’t by any chance on your phone?”
“… it’s possible.”
“What happened next ?”
“A man in a TfL uniform came over.”
“What did he say?”
“He said: ‘Have you fallen off the escalator, sir?’”
“‘Whatever makes you think that,’ I said. ‘I’ve just decided to have a nap at the bottom of the escalator.’”
“What did he say then?”
“‘Can you stand on it?’”
“And could you?”
“Yes… just. The TfL guy said, ‘Good, that means you definitely haven’t broken it.’ He helped me to the McDonalds by the ticket machines.”
“You wanted a burger?”
“No, I didn’t want a burger, Ronnie! I wanted to sit down.”
“This is more interesting than my film script!”
“The man on the next stool leant across — ‘I’m from New Zealand,’ he said. ‘My wife’s a nurse, and she’s here to give flu vaccinations to pensioners. Do you need one?’
“‘No thank you,’ I said — ‘she hasn’t got any morphine on her, has she?
“An hour later, I’m in Harley Street seeing an orthopaedic surgeon.
“‘You’ve broken your ankle,’” he said.”
‣ Back in Harley Street — I’ve been referred to another doctor.
“You’ve got to have a Doppler,” he said.
“What’s a Doppler? What do I need a Doppler for?”
“Odessa? What’s Odessa got to do with my breaking my ankle?”
Apart from the fact that there had once been a lot of Jews in Odessa, I couldn’t make the connection to my broken ankle.
“I’ve no idea,” he said, “I said oedema… not Odessa.”
“Fluid swelling your legs… just checking in case you’ve got DVT.”
‣ Harley Street.
I had the Doppler scan: “Good news — no DVT,” said the New Zealander Doppler scanner lady.
“Who’s looking after everyone in New Zealand?”
‣ Back in Harley street for a second opinion.
“Can you take your trousers and boxers off?”
“A colonoscopy! What are you talking about? A colonoscopy for a broken ankle? “
“You’ve got a broken ankle?”
“Yes… that’s why I’m here.”
“You knocked on the wrong door, the orthopaedic surgeon’s the next room on the right.
“I’m Goldberg the colorectal surgeon. Anyway, while you’re here, how about the ‘experienced finger?” He asked this while pulling on a plastic glove .
“Maybe another time.”
On my way out I asked: “What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever found up there in your professional explorations?”
“A small bust of Napoleon,” he said.
‣ The man at the next table having breakfast in my local café had a huge plaster cast on one leg and a pair of crutches rested against the wall beside him.
“What happened to you,” I asked.“Broken ankle?”
“You didn’t by any chance fall off the escalator at Bond Street tube?”
“No, I fell off a motorbike in San Francisco a year ago,” he said. “A Harley.”
I now know what it’s like to ride a mobility scooter: I’ve got the fastest mobility scooter in the West’.
So if you’re driving in the West End of London next week and see a portly, middle-aged Jewish man whizzing round on a red Vespa —like a Deliveroo rider on steroids — his right leg horizontal, with a pack of frozen peas wrapped around his ankle — don’t crash into me.