I said I'd get back to talking about Bideford and I'm going to have to through circumstance rather than choice. When I stood up outside Westward Ho!, my right knee made a noise so sickening I think it would have floored me by itself. As it was, the pain just about sent me over and I was gasping there like a fish out of water for a minute or two - I tried to stand up under the weight of my stick but it wasn't supporting me at all so I sat and waited, keeping the leg straight as I could and trying to adopt a suitably pained expression in case someone in the local car park would take pity on me and give me a lift back into town. Alas, nobody saved the day, so after the pain had settled, I rose up, leaning on my stick and hobbled my way back into town, my knee feeling more tender with every step. By the time I'd reached the bus stop I was sweating and cursing under my breath, armed with the knowledge that there was a hospital (and a pub) in Bideford.
Keeping my priorities straight, I hobbled off the bus and straight into the pub. The Joiners Arms seemed to me, a haven of friendliness in a town of scowls. Outside another pub, a man in a baseball cap growled at me when I moved towards the entrance, but when the patrons of the Joiners saw me hobbling up, they called out a friendly greeting and beckoned me inside. What a pub - for the most part.
I got talking immediately to a straggly haired gentleman,who bought me a pint and pointed me towards the minor injuries unit. I assured him I'd be back later and fully intended to keep my word - friendly faces were rare in these parts.
Rare, except for at the hospital itself. The ladies (and gent) at the minor injuries unit were both lovely and helpful, above and beyond the call of duty. But I hope they'll forgive me for saying I hope I never see them again. They had nothing but bad news for me - I've done major damage to one of the ligaments, classed as 'Grade 2 - a partial, mid - severe tear.' The nurse who helped me laughed when I asked if I'd be able to continue; the answer was no. Certainly not right away, and not at all if I had any sense. But I've never counted 'sense' among my qualities - beauty, talent and outstanding modesty? Yes. But sense? Sense is for mortals.
Ps. Apologies to the trainee male paramedic who caught a glimpse up my boxers when supporting my leg during the examination. And thanks for not commenting on the fact that they were inside out and back to front - I had to pack light...