Those OA members of a certain vintage will recall my misadventure with a swimming pool, a date, a dislocated shoulder and a hoist.
Some years ago, after an ignominious Arsenal defeat of some kind, I related this story to the community under the banner of “to cheer you up…” since when the term “hoist” has become somewhat infamous in these parts.
Regrettably for me, but not for you, I have a sequel. I attended the Everton game with my uncle. Even longer serving OA members may recall he is a disabled season ticket holder, and owing to the club allowing someone to attend with disabled supporters, a free ticket occasionally comes my way, and such a stroke of luck it was that saw me at the Emirates on Sunday.
After the game, my uncle took the lift down to the ground floor and I fatefully parted ways due to capacity in the lift to take the stairs and meet him at the bottom. En route, I slipped and fell down some stairs. This fall led me to land on a step behind me directly on my shoulder, immediately dislocating it.
Recognising my distress, some fellow gooners set off in search of some staff to assist. Those familiar with the original hoist story will know my misery on that occasion was compounded by staff at my local swimming pool who claimed not to know what to do in a facility that contained a full time physiotherapist. Of all the miseries that might have befallen me in this experience, poor quality staffing was most certainly not one of them. Emirates Stadium staff and a St John’s Ambulance crew arrived quickly, and set about helping. Although those disappointed by a lack of comically inept staff may be somewhat comforted by the arrival of a health and safety manager who was shoed away from her attempts to ask me about the circumstances of my injury by a reassuringly frustrated paramedic.
After some minutes of considerable distress, I was helped to my feet to make the short, but also extremely long walk to the bottom of the flight of stairs I had fallen on where I was loaded (for there is no more apt phrase) onto a stretcher/chair. This is, thankfully, as close as we shall come to a hoist in this story.
The chair was then hoisted (sorry) and I was carried down into the next level of the stadium. This, as it turned out, was club level which to the observers within I was lowered down to as though I were some kind of lopsided, Arsenal supporting Egyptian Pharaoh on a royal litter.
A strange journey then followed to the lift as I passed the bemused and well dressed denizens of club level. Descending, and with the pain from my shoulder certainly impairing my awareness of my surroundings, my now significant entourage and I emerged into the world of the players car park. I was weaved expertly around cars that I reflected that it would be unwise to collide with as my shoulder was almost certainly worth several times less than any one of the assembled vehicles which appeared to be a result of cross breeding between a Rolls Royce and the concept of wealth itself. Eventually, led past an assembly of evidently amused police officers I reached my own conveyance - a London Ambulance.
Of my journey into the ambulance itself, I need not bore you with the details. It was long, it was painful, but there were spectacular painkillers at the end of it. These were immediately put to the test by the journey out of the stadium, as those who have not been driven in an ambulance to hospital with a dislocated shoulder will scarcely be able to conceive of the scale of the discomfort. There did however follow a moment of sublime, surreal ridiculousness. A small window in the ambulance allowed me to see that we were passing the Tollington where an enormous cheer went up, followed by a gathering of fans to the immediate rear of the vehicle. I began to envision once again being transported aloft on my non-hoist support into a sea of supporters. Alas, it transpired, one of the players (despite the attempts of those more mobile than me in the ambulance, we could not determine who) was in the vehicle behind.
My journey to the hospital and the three hours it took for my shoulder to be returned to its socket are not the focus of this story, so I shall not elaborate further on the fun that was had with those proceedings. However, I offer this here in the spirit of the original hoist anecdote. Sometimes, these things simply have to be shared.