22 MAY 1993, Page 40

Low life


Jeffrey Bernard

Last week's fall resulted in a faintly ridiculous little drama. I crashed over back- wards in the hall of this flat and as luck would have it fell within inches of an alarm cord. Every room here has one. I couldn't get up, in fact I could barely move. After a while two people from the estate office accompanied by two policemen came to my rescue and they carried me to my bed.

I am not sure what I would or could have done without the alarm system. I have often looked with foreboding at that adver- tisement for an alarm of sorts which depicts an old woman lying helpless at the foot of some stairs. I feel sorry for the poor sod who might find me one of these days in the heat of a summer being devoured by bluebottles.

Coincidentally, thp day after I fell the health authorities delivered a wheelchair. It is standing folded against a wall and I look at it with something akin to horror. I hope I never have to use it. I do not want to be knee-high to every grasshopper in the street, towered over by children or so close to the rat-like pigeons in the market.

And now the angel of mercy, Vera, has just telephoned to tell me that she is going to a union meeting and can't attend to me today. Someone on the substitute bench will arrive but there is no substitute for Vera. I shall pour myself a drink and con- template the awful wheelchair.

What I should contemplate is the quite marvellous views from my windows. Visi- tors to this flat in the first two weeks of res- idency have been very impressed, but one visitor I am worried about is Denise, Fred Winter's daughter. She has been tremen- dously helpful with my move to this flat `Can I phone for a pizza, sir — forgot my packed lunch.' and she is extremely kind, but I fear that she unconsciously wants to take over. I would like to be consulted about what goes where in here. At the moment, on the bookshelves I see that Oliver Cromwell is between Mediterranean Food and The His- tory of the Derby Stakes. I think that would have puzzled Nol.

She also wants to take me out because I need some new clothes. All of this reminds me of some of worse aspects of marriage. One of my wives once nagged me into hav- ing four teeth pulled. I am now sure they could have been capped. I hate to think what Denise's plans are for my legs and hip. She eyes the wheelchair like a small boy looking through a toyshop window.

But more irritating than Denise's good intentions was an incident in the Gummo Club last week. In fact it was a non-inci- dent. I have been told that I am one of the few prompt payers of bills in the club and, when presented with an enormous bill, enormous by my standards anyway, I wasn't even offered one lousy drink on the house.

But at least the bill from the Gummo Club was fractionally eased when Peter Walwyn's horse, Hamas, stormed through very late at York to win at 14-1. And now I shall have to spend a few minutes studying Timeform because Goodwood is on the box this afternoon and I need to buy a new refrigerator. A horse of the Queen Moth- er's bought me my first colour television set some years ago and a horse once stood on my foot for three minutes and refused to budge. I sometimes just don't know what to make of the brutes.