Human Disaster


Last week was kind of a smorgasbord of minor calamities for me. On Sunday I passed out at Ben Howard and the following day had me occupied with a clogged toilet, at which point I was forced to accept that my life was basically a sitcom (reviews would read: “too sad to be funny”, “amusing at points but far too ridiculous to enable the suspension of disbelief”). I also had a bad experience at Zizzi’s which hit pretty hard given my penchant for Italian food and the wasted opportunity it turned out to be; their pulled pork pizza was one of the most significant bummers of my lifetime. Anyway, given the comedy of errors that Sunday night turned into, I thought I would recap.


Our view of Ben Howard. © Emma Holbrook

About five songs into Ben Howard’s set, I whisper rather pathetically to my friend Emma, “I need water” or “I can’t breathe” or something desperate and dramatic. Concerned, she suggests I leave the crowd, which I rather sensibly, and stubbornly, refuse. My other friend, Hannah, has now turned around to support Emma’s suggestion and before things turn into a singalong of Jojo’s Leave (Get Out), I flop onto Hannah’s shoulder, suspending all arguments. It is at this point that Hannah and Emma turn into my bodyguards, helpfully guiding me out of the crowd. It’s clear to everyone that it’s a matter of time before I’m flat on the floor, and I lose my eyesight for a moment, so we hurriedly stumble to clear space. Before I know it, Hannah has turned into Paramedic in Charge and is authoritatively saying, “Let’s sit her down” and Emma has hustled a security dude over. The security dude insists I go to the first aid room so I get up to follow him. Instead of leading us, he goes through to the bar to grab a water for me but we all follow him because I’m so out of it that I don’t know what’s happening. Dude then has to say, “Yeah, this isn’t the first aid room.” It shouldn’t be news to me but it is.

Our time in the actual first aid room is a series of amusing missteps. To set the scene, before Hannah, Emma and I go in, there are about six first aiders and one patient in there and it’s probably definitely already over capacity. First, they ask my name for a form that has to be filled out. “Kennedy,” I say, because it’s, y’know, the answer. Inexperienced First Aider Number One, we’ll call him, seems amused by this and asks, “Like the president?” He laughs, I sigh. I give him a pass on it seeing as he probably thinks I’ve never heard that before. He doesn’t know my life. Hannah and I lock eyes and share a mutual internal groan. Not for the last time that night.

Later, they begin asking me things like, “Have you been drinking?” A simple question, you might think. In my hazy state, however, I misunderstood the question not to mean alcohol but really any drink. My reply, therefore, was, “Not enough.” Everybody laughs at me. I don’t blame them. I attempt to claw back some dignity by hamming up my haziness and muttering, “I haven’t been drinking enough water… probably.” It’s too late. They have decided I’m either an alcoholic or an idiot. They then ask how much I’ve eaten. Before I can reply, Emma eagerly jumps in and announces to the room, “She just ate a MASSIVE pizza.” More laughter. As they continue with the form, it becomes clear that Inexperienced First Aider Number One is not doing a good enough job and it becomes a team effort between three inexperienced first aiders and their superior. They take turns with their questions and seem remarkably nervous to ask me rather inane, basic questions. At this point, I’m 99% fine and amused by the fuss. They ask my emergency contact and I give my mum’s number, despite that we are in Norwich and she is approximately seven hours away. It would need to be quite a slow emergency, and therefore not an emergency, for that to be remotely helpful.

It’s when they begin trying to get my pulse that things go awry. To begin with, the first aiders are fighting over who gets the honour. I can’t blame them, have you seen my wrist? Hot shit. When they begin trying to get my pulse, Inexperienced First Aider Number Two fails to find any sign of life. Then One and Three take their shot. I try to break the tension with a “maybe I’m dead” quip. All of a sudden no one wants to laugh; I develop an irrational bitterness but remind myself that I got a good laugh out of Emma for my earlier “All About That Space” singsong upon noticing that she follows NASA on Instagram, so I’ve had enough validation for one day. I also begin to think about the episode of Chicago Fire I’d watched the day before, where they go into a bombed building to get people out, checking pulses to identify those who are still saveable. LIKE WHAT IF YOU JUST DIDN’T FIND THE PULSE, CASEY, YOU CALLOUS BASTARD????* I now feel concerned that my pulse playing hard to get will cause me problems in a dramatic disaster-style situation. Upon sharing my concerns with Hannah, she suggested that I remind myself TV isn’t real life. Solid advice.

Eventually we get back to Inexperienced First Aider Number Two and she claims to find a pulse. It takes about five attempts but we’re there. Not dead. Relatively normal. And is that The Fear I hear in the background? We dash back to the concert, relieved in the knowledge that I have a pulse, and enjoy the rest of Ben Howard. Turns out we actually missed out on the real drama of the night. Long story long, what a fuss.

*I can’t stay mad.

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  1. BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Norwich 2015 | Jessica Eve Kennedy

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