Sunday, 15 May 2011

Trouble at the Ol' Mine

I've had a bit of a mental week. I had another Creative Writing assignment to hand in, and I found myself somewhat distracted. One part of that was becoming an uncle, and getting irrationally excited about the whole thing. I wasn't much in the mood for sitting still while there was a baby to go and gawp at. Also, despite my resolution to never drive again, my dad offered to put me on his insurance so I could drive the family car. Combine stalker uncle with newfound freedom, and it's not long before I'm driving my mum to the hospital to visit my sister and the babbie. This was my second trip out in the car, the first one being half an hour earlier as a test to see if I could do it. I stalled about seven times, but I didn't let that deter me, and I was absolutely fine on our trip to and from the hospital.

The real drama only set in on Tuesday. I'd managed to make good headway with my writing by then. I decided recently to try a new method with my writing. Instead of going straight from my notes to word-processing, I decided to write my first draft on paper as well. It was after I saw something on a website about working with your hands. Not sure how I feel about it yet, but it has its advantages. I was still on my first draft on Tuesday, with the assignment due on Thursday, but I was planning to finish the draft by the end of the day and then type it up on Wednesday, leaving Thursday to do the report and other things the assignment required. However, something happened which put me out of the mood for writing.

After dinner that evening, my dad got a call from my grandmother. My grandfather had left a note saying he had gone out for a walk in the Bilston area. He would have been expected back around 3, and it was now 6. At 7, my dad called the police, then went out to Bilston to look for his car. He came back around 10, having found nothing. We were all pretty worried by this point. My grandfather is 83, and though he's fit and healthy, he's still an elderly man. We got calls from the police throughout the evening informing us of their progress, of which there was none. By the time I went to bed around 2, they still hadn't found his car, so could not direct a search team. I'm sure my dad would have been out looking with them, but he was told to stay at home by the police. I went to to bed to an uneasy sleep, more or less convinced I was going to wake up to the news that a body had been found.

I woke around 5.45am, aware perhaps of the phone having gone off, though I don't remember hearing it. Lying in my bed, afraid to get up to be confronted by bad news, I overheard my mum tell my brother that the car had been found, but there was nothing else yet. I decided I should probably get some more sleep, so I dozed in and out with the TV on, hoping it would stop me from sleeping all morning. My dreams were filled with thoughts of my grandfather, turned surreal by my having recently played a game called Ghost Trick where you play as a spirit that possesses objects. When I woke again a couple of hours, I heard my mother on the phone, and by what she said I was able to surmise that there had possibly been good news. It sounded like she was talking to my grandmother.

When she got off the phone, she came and talked to me. My grandfather had been found - alive - and indeed barely injured at all. He had fallen down a disused mine shaft and been unable to get out. He was still there, but only waiting on special equipment to be retrieved so he could be rescued. You can imagine how relieved we all were. It was an ending none of us imagined possible.

I heard the full story later.

My grandfather, who is a keen caver - and according to one of his caving club friends, quoted in the paper, 'knows more about the country's old mine entrances than any other person'. He was planning to go out, and when he goes out for a walk he generally waits to take his medication until he returns, because it weakens his muscles. It rained, so he was going to give up on the excursion and so took his medication, but when it turned out to only be a brief shower, he headed out anyway. Not long into his walk he came to the mine entrance, and took a look inside. He often reports his findings to his caving club so that areas can be explored more fully, and in some cases his findings have led to safety measures being taken to alert country walkers to the presence of these old mines. He climbed down a ladder to take a look, but because he had taken his medication, he lost his grip and fell. The area at the bottom was only four foot across, and after hurting his back he was unable to lie down. He had no food with him, and he wasn't wearing particularly warm clothing. To keep warm for the 15 hours he spent trapped in that four-foot space, he paced repeatedly up and down. Again and again. Forget Chuck Norris, do not mess with my grandad.

I know the question you're asking yourselves, because I asked myself the same thing. Where was Lassie in all this? That dog has a lot to answer for.

Anyway, my grandad got an x-ray but was found to be fine (though I'm sure my poor grandmother gave him an earful and a half), and I ended up getting an extension on my creative writing assignment. I finished it after painstaking editing last night. 1000 words over the limit. But you know what I say? Bollocks to word limits, that's what. You can't limit my creativity, man. I'm livin' the dream.


Don said...

Glad to hear your grandfather did OK in the ordeal!!

Also glad they gave you an extension on your paper. ;)


Anji said...

Good news that your Grandfather was okay in the end. I should think you've got plenty of inspiration for future writing from that adventure.