Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
30 October 2016

It’s Rosh Hashana, but the year 5777 doesn’t begin smoothly for me

Readers, forget the 80 minutes for an ambulance. This was Sunday night in A&E. 

By Maureen Lipman

It was Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and a time for good deeds. I was feeling a bit bruised. I hate to admit why, because it’s so luvvie. My book launch, two days earlier, had been, not a damp squib, but a soaked squid. I’d planned it so carefully. The gallery, invitations, canapés; the illustrations on the walls to sell for a myeloma charity. I’d even hired Luke to make me up as an exotic bird for the event with black plumage and yellow legs. Well . . . it’s a funny old book.

Almost no one RSVP’d, then only a few bought a painting; no press showed up, not even Jewish Quarterly; then someone elderly passed out and 999 said an ambulance would be 80 minutes for an assessment! Outside, we couldn’t find a restaurant for ten stragglers who wanted cheering up, so Guido and I went home to beans on toast and rice pudding from a tin.

I kept repeating, “I am not in Haiti, I am not in Haiti,” to divert me from the anvil in my stomach – and the next day, at ten to 6am, I had a brainwave. We would get on a train from Paddington to Totnes and surprise Guido’s daughter Yolanda, recovering from surgery. Guido – less sure but keen for me to be happy – got online, then we got on board with a tuna salad and Private Eye and off we jolly well went, the train taking the strain.

Lovely day, happy faces well met, osso buco round the farm table and Yolanda roaring with laughter at my book. So there. A perfect B&B. Then Sunday brunch at a waterside café with my mate Julia McKenzie and her husband, who live nearby.

Unfortunately, there was a mix-up over the numbers. A hasty rearrangement of chairs followed and suddenly Guido disappeared under the table, landing on his hand. Stoically, he sat through fish soup and French fries, but on the train back it swelled up like a soufflé, so on return to Paddington we decided to check it wasn’t in need of a cold compress.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Readers, forget the 80 minutes for an ambulance. This was Sunday night in A&E. Drunks and druggies, 12 harassed police persons, people hanging off trolleys, toddlers howling while their dads studied iPhones, and four hours later a revealing X-ray, showing not one fracture, but two. My fault for suggesting the jaunt.

To redeem myself, I did my second mitzvah (good deed) of 5777 by escorting a young, weeping Portuguese woman to a black cab in the rain on her crutches. I carried her things, assuring her that I was honest and well known in the area and prevented her stumbling as she got into the “Sorry, no credit cards” cab. I slipped her 20 quid and my address, closed the door and waved her away.

Her face was distraught . . . she was mouthing something through the window. In the gloom I tried to make it out . . .

“Please can I have my handbag back?”

Miscast, downcast and plaster cast. 

This article appears in the 25 Oct 2016 issue of the New Statesman, American Rage