And a Smashing Time was had by All
In 1972 I still had hair and most of my teeth. I was young, pretty gormless, thought myriad solar systems shone forth from my fundament and rode a 6-speed 250 c.c. Suzuki motorcycle that had a top speed well in excess of my driving skills.
In December of that year, I celebrated my twentieth birthday in various establishments in Tsim Sha Tsui and Saikung. One of those establishments was the Go-Down Bistro in Chatham Road, a venue that many old-time residents of Hong Kong will recall with nostalgia.
During that time, Princess Margaret Edward Road, which leads towards the Cross Harbour Tunnel was undergoing major repairs in the long left-hand bend outside what was then the RSPCA building which effectively turned it into an ‘S’ bend. At around 1:00 a.m. a car containing a driver and three passengers smashed through a road barrier, wiped out the warning signs and then overturned. The people in the car were severely injured.
Fortunately for them, an expatriate off-duty police officer was walking his dog. This officer witnessed the accident, tied his dog to a lamppost and went to call emergency services. Now you must remember that there were no mobile phones in those days, the only phone available was at the RSPCA centre across the road.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital was less than five minutes down the road and an ambulance arrived within moments. The officer, having done his best untied his dog and turned in the direction of home and it was at that moment that I arrived on the scene in a shower of sparks and screeching metal.
Now, in my own defence, I must say that the car that hit the site before me had wiped all of the warning lights out. Without any indication that I was entering a construction site, I went into the corner at 60 mph, heeled over and traveling. By the time I realised I was in danger it was too late. I hurled the bike into the corner, the rear wheel lifted when I grounded the left side footrest and I came off. I hit the ground, flipped over and rolled head over heels until, now traveling backwards, I hit a wooden barrier fence. I came to on the other side of Princess Margaret Road to find myself lying on the ground. I staggered to my feet, not realising that I had an oblique fracture in my right leg. The bone shard burst through my leg just below my knee, and not surprisingly, I fell over bleeding profusely from several wounds.
The police officer reattached his long-suffering dog to the lamppost and rushed over to help me. Once again he went to call Queen Elizabeth Hospital to report the accident.
Unfortunately, believing that they had already sent an ambulance just a few moments before they ignored the call. In the meantime, I lay on the ground and bled. When the officer realised the hospital’s error he called them again and this time, within moments they arrived. I recall being lifted into the ambulance and remember thinking how beautifully white and clean it was. I didn’t wake up again for six hours. I had broken both of my legs, the right in two places and my left foot and right hand.
I mentioned in the introduction that I had not named any officers or civilians by name. In this chapter, I make an exception. I do not know his rank at the time of the incident but the officer’s name was Ian Hyde.
And he saved my life.
Copyright John Stewart Sloan – 2007 – Not for Publication