I cut my finger on a piece of cardboard the other day. No really I did. I was in Balcony Shirts unpacking a box of t-shirts when I somehow caught the second finger of my right hand on the inside of the box - when I bought my hand out it was bleeding profusely, in the way that your finger does when it gets cut, if you know what I mean. I made some rather weak gags about suing them for an industrial injury and then was obliged to refuse a sticking plaster on the grounds that I'm somewhat implausibly allergic to them. I thought no more of the cut until Monday when I was running through some perspective new material for Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks with Pete and Big Al - it was a bit itchy and hot but I decided that this was because it was getting better.
The next morning it was swollen and red - except for the bit by the fingernail which was an ominous shade of light green. I walked over to the chemist shop across the road from me where the very nice young lady behind the counter (I don't remember chemists being quite so heavily tattooed when I was a lad?!) told me that I could try some antiseptic or TCP but that I'd probably be better to go to my doctor and get some antibiotics. I attempted to lighten the mood by observing that as a six foot tall man I am of course a complete wimp and surely this isn't that serious - she replied that if I went in the next day or so I'd probably save my arm. She didn't look anywhere near as jocular as I would have liked her to look.
The next day I stumbled into my doctor's surgery reception area and waited to see the receptionist. My finger hurt. Actually my hand hurt. The second finger was more swollen than on the previous day and the green bit was, well, greener. Darker. Urgh. I explained my plight to the receptionist who told me that the next appointment available with my doctor was in a week's time, unless it's a medical emergency.
'Is it a medical emergency?'
'Well not really' I replied, 'although I do play the guitar, and...'
At this point she saw my hand. Her eyebrows raised slightly.
'Can you come back at 2.30 today? The nurse can see you then'
Yes of course I can. Gulp.
Not long after my allotted time a cheery face appeared through the half-opened door.
'Mr Heggarty? Would you like to come through?'
Yes of course I would. Gulp.
The nurse looked reasonably interested as she listened to my rather pathetic tale of cardboard carnage. When she saw my devastated digit her eyes widened. 'Hmm' she said typing furiously, 'I'd better get a doctor to have a look at this' adding 'I'll just put that it's urgent' as she typed six letters - presumably U-R-G-E-N-T - at a rather slower pace than she'd typed all the other letters. Within 30 seconds a lady doctor that I'd never seen before (I'm lucky enough to not have to go there very often!) let herself into the nurse's room, said hello and asked to look at my hand. 'Ah!' she said before explaining that yes I'd need antibiotics and that if they didn't work 'we'll have to use a scalpel'.
I said that I'd like to try the antibiotics.
'I guess everybody asks if they can drink when I'm taking these?'
She smiled as she looked up from scribbling a prescription. I could but they might not work as well as if I didn't. Ok then, I won't. Much.
£8.20 (£8.20!) later I had my tablets. I started taking them more or less immediately, and I'm still taking them now. But more about that in a minute.
It being the week of St. Patrick's Day I'd been contacted by Leeson to see if I'd like to join Neck for their celebratory shows; I was also asked if I'd like to play a couple of songs with Department S at their Half Moon Putney gig supporting The Members - sadly I was obliged to decline both of these offers. More seriously there was a Ruts DC recording session booked with James for tomorrow, but we decided it was best to postpone this until I'm fully recovered rather than waste time and money. Bah! Mind you this was also the week that Iain Duncan Smith resigned - there's lots to say about that but maybe I'll do that next time. I did heroically manage to wince my way through a couple of shows with Big Al and co. (at The Riverside Club in Staines and The Queen's Arms in Colnbrook since you've asked) but I fear neither of my performances will be seen as highlights of my rather dubious 'career'. It's all about that weird feeling that when you're waiting for something to go wrong it's very hard to make something go right - every time the end of my right second finger touched the guitar it sent a shot of pain right up my arm, and since I was always trying to stop that from happening I couldn't play how I would have liked. Not good frankly. Oh and I've just remembered that a bird, er, sent me a message on the way to the shop on Saturday. Why do people say that's lucky? It certainly didn't feel it when it happened.
Anyway I woke up this morning with my right hand throbbing. 'Time to do something about this' I said to myself (or maybe even out loud) as attempted to make a left - handed coffee. After horrifying the lads at the shop with the sight of my finger I once again stumbled into my doctor's surgery reception area and once again left with a 2.30 appointment to see the nurse. As I sat in the waiting room I amused myself with the (to me) ironic sight of The General Eliott being advertised on the TV screen in the corner - plugging a pub in a doctor's surgery eh? I also decided that I was more nervous than perhaps I had realised. It was a different nurse this time, but once again the same lady doctor was summoned after the nurse's eyebrows had practically hit the ceiling at the sight of the famous finger. 'I won't lie to you Leigh, this is going to hurt'. She wasn't wrong. It's never good when a doctor calls you by your first name is it?
As I picked up another prescription's worth of antibiotics from the chemist I reflected on the previous few days. Not a good week. This week will be better. Please!