I've been in hospital several times and have reassuring memories from each time of it being a place of safety and of loving concern shown by those who worked there. I remember nothing from those previous visits except that it involved removal of my tonsils and a problem with my foreskin. The experience is buried deep in my subconscious, so no painful memories are associated with being "hospitalised".

Probably good to have lost those memories!

This memory was more dramatic for those around me than for me. I came crawling out of a ditch, semi-conscious and stumbled to the house, somewhat bloodied and covered in stinky putrid ditch mud! Only those of English or Anglophile descent can conjure up the memory of the smell of a well-matured ditch! Even dogs, who love to roll in cattle manure, will avoid a ditch! On arrival at the house I probably looked more like Quatermass than a human being, albeit a miniature version, and repelling all life forms on the way by the smell!

But you, the reader, might ask before being hurled onto the roller coaster of such a foul story, what was I doing in a ditch in the first place! I will tell you as much as I can remember, both the good and the bad. (The good being the sweetness of being the centre of feminine attention! The bad being in a state of profound shock!)

The ditch surrounded the plot adjacent to the home I lived in with my mother, my Aunt and my Uncle in a tied farm cottage in Gloucestershire, in the village of Eastington. Although the cottage was "for the workers" it was quite large, including a huge garden. This not only providing me with a place where I could create my imaginary empires in earthen bunkers and fortresses, but it also had space at the rear where my uncle stabled a small pony

I often spent time roaming this tract of land where the hedges hung low and fruit trees of various sorts produced sour tasting fruit, having grown from wild seeds. It could have been a place of plenty because the soil was rich and black but my uncle had no interest in cultivating it. Instead, it was used for riding a mongrel pony over misshapen poles that provided a jump of sorts. It was also my hide away, playing hide and seek amongst the long grass and hollow hedge with my friends. A view over the surrounding fields could be had by climbing the rogue apple trees that bordered this paddock, set apart magically from the outside world by the enclosing hedge. It was from this place that I emerged on this fateful day.

Before stumbling out of the stinking morass, I must have fallen out of the apple tree, striking my head on the large concrete drainage outlet which served up the ditch contents. I cannot remember even climbing up the apple tree, let alone falling, but this must have been the case. It apparently is a feature of the unconscious that shuts of traumatic experiences from our waking memory.

My aunt and mother reacted with horror and concern on my arrival at the house; Uncle was summoned urgently from his work at the farm next door; a car was commandeered; and I was rushed to Stroud General hospital some five miles away. I cannot remember how the slime I was encased in was removed: was it a brave nurse on arrival; did my loving mother hose me down at home; or did everyone just ignore my condition because of haste and fear, so that the lifesaving vehicle was to be contaminated with ditch perfume forever?

All I remember was having to lie without a pillow for 24 hours on a bed in Stroud General Hospital which was the recommended treatment for concussion in the 1950s. Life was very simple in those days: no blood tests for ditch antigens, or X-rays to confirm I was safely back in consciousness; and no surgery to investigate the hole that a stick or other foreign body had driven into my neck — a whisker away from the carotid artery and certain death! Quite obviously, my Gaurdian angel and my fate had decreed my survival on this occasion.

Finally, after being discharged and taken home, I remember my mother opening the gate to our home, and my walking, as if in a dream, down the path to the house. I often wonder if, during being 'ditched', another "me" had entered my body, leaving the first "me" behind in the ditch. At least this is how it felt as I walked down the path, seeing the house through different eyes, with a mind that had been recalibrated and had to learn again the words for things. Although nothing so drastic as total amnesia resulted, I lived a few days with the disorientated feeling that only part of me had returned from the hospital.

Not unexpectedly, I refrained from climbing that apple tree again and to this day, I refrained from climbing that apple tree again and to this day, I have no memory of how I arrived in the ditch. It's not the gap that's of importance but it remains an irritant that my mind continues to disobey me and refuses to fill in this possible twenty second gap in my memory.