The Accident

…I sat shivering in the chair, semi-dozing, but too much adrenalin prevented me from falling asleep. Eventually the phone rang. It was JG Strydom hospital. A nurse told me that there had been an accident, and Mike Blacow had been critically injured. She asked if I would come in. However, she couldn’t tell me where the other Michael was, as only the one casualty had been admitted. I didn’t know what to do, so I phoned Michael’s boss, who we slightly knew socially. He told me to stay put with the children, and they would come over. While I was waiting for them, the phone rang again. It was a different hospital telling me that my husband was there. He had concussion and bruising, but was otherwise okay.

Semi-relieved, I sat and waited. Suddenly I looked up and there was Mike Blacow standing in the doorway. I opened my mouth to speak, but he gave a wry smile and shrugged his shoulders. Then he was gone.

About ten minutes later, a doctor from the JG Strydom hospital phoned to say Mike had passed away.  I felt that I knew already; he had come to say goodbye. My immediate dread was how to tell his parents in England. How can you phone someone so far away and give them such terrible news? I thought I might put it off for a while in case the hospital had made some dreadful mistake, and actually Mike was alive after all.

At that moment, Michael’s boss arrived with his daughter. She had offered to stay with the children while her father drove me to the hospital. They had also contacted several hospitals and been given the message that my Michael was the fatality, so none of us knew what to expect.

We arrived at the casualty department and went in to see my husband sitting up in bed, looking pale, but very much alive.

Apparently the police had been chasing a large black car believed to have been driven by men who had committed a burglary. In a bid to evade the police, the driver of the black car had switched his lights off and somehow driven straight over the top of Mike’s little blue beetle.

When I got home from the hospital, with terrible trepidation, I phoned Mike’s parents. Bad news travels fast, and another doctor from the hospital at which he worked had already spoken to them. They told me they would come out as soon as they could get on a flight.

For several days I couldn’t bring myself to strip Mike’s bed. I felt as if I were in the middle of a nightmare and would eventually wake up with everything back to normal. Either that or it had all been a terrible mistake and he was lying in some hospital suffering from amnesia and would regain his memory and come back to us any day soon.

Michael was discharged from hospital after a couple of days, which was a comfort, and Mike’s parents came out to take his ashes back to England. Our house was full of grieving friends, but hospitality flowed easily thanks to my earlier baking marathon.

Some days later we read in the paper a brief account of the accident. The driver of the black car had been accused of manslaughter and fined SAR200. On the same page was a much longer story of someone found in possession of banned literature. They were fined SAR500.


Mike Blacow


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