It struck me this morning that in the space of 24 hours recently I was doing exactly the same thing but in different circumstances. I was lying perfectly still with my eyes closed.
On Friday afternoon I made my way to the Royal Free hospital and walked straight to the MRI waiting area. I’d completed the paperwork before I got there and gave the correct forms to the right people and was taking my jewellery off before I was asked. The only thing I couldn’t help them with was my weight because I don’t have a pair of scales. I prefer the “can I get into my favourite jeans?” method of monitoring that kind of thing.
Surprisingly I was asked to get ready for the scan straight away so I went into the changing room, grabbed two rather fetching hospital gowns (one put on first with the opening at the back, then the other one worn with the opening at the front – hospital chic with no flashing anyone *taps temple and winks*), put my belongings in a locker and was shown into the room with a shiny new MRI machine.
The old machine required me to go in feet first which was good because my head would poke out of the end and it wasn’t so claustrophobic in there. I knew from where the technicians told me to place my head that I’d be going in head first this time. I must admit once they’d put the ear protectors on and handed me the panic button to clutch, that when it started moving backwards and I was “encased” for want of a better word, I was a little freaked. One glance was enough to confirm that although it was brightly lit and had cool air being blasted through I was still in a tight tube and I shut my eyes again quickly.
Funnily enough the sounds are reassuringly loud and familiar. First the rhythmic screech of the MRI plotting the points – then the deeper throbbing of the actual scan. I wasn’t there though. In the 30 minutes or so I was being scanned I was in Marks & Spencer wandering along the salad aisles, I was revisiting a trip to the theatre to see Darren Brown, I was wondering gleefully how my two besties were doing without plumbing at Bestival, I was …oh, I was finished and was being whizzed back out of there and told to sit up slowly and carefully. I made my usual quip about it being a really boring funfair ride and couldn’t it go faster and I also tried to use my Sherlock powers of face reading to deduce a flicker of sympathy on the technicians’ faces which would mean they’ve seen the Alien again. Never did before though – these guys are probably expert poker players.
Pretty much exactly 24 hours later I was flat on my back with my eyes closed again. This time however instead of plastic I could feel grass and a picnic blanket under me. A glance confirmed a huge blue sky with a few grey looking clouds – but only a few. I could hear why John can probably never go back to Royal Tunbridge Wells again, certainly not the charity shops and I was laughing so hard my cheeks were beginning to hurt. So was everybody else in the Writers’ Circle before we picked up our pens again and a companionable silence fell… and I wasn’t there. I was on a pier in a fictional seaside town watching my character deal with some fish and chips and anger and true love. Before I knew it I had to sit up and eat the ice cream that I’d just been handed slowly and carefully.