1965 – Crash

Paul Jones¹ is bleeding, with a broken arm and a damaged lip. I regain consciousness, find that I cannot breathe; I struggle for what seems a terribly long time to get a breath. I bang my chest repeatedly and desperately. I feel I am dying, but finally I am able to take that life-giving first breath – air has never been as precious or delicious. I have damaged ribs, spend several days in hospital, we are all lucky to be alive.

I had been sleeping in the back of the vehicle, felt the car lose direction and for a hanging period of time I curled up frightened and pink and soft waiting for the end of this.
A1We have survived a car crash in the early hours of the morning on the A1². Our car had careered across the carriageway and hit a parked vehicle in front of a small hut where some men are eating. Those in the hut could have been injured or dead, they were very lucky.

What do I hear from these men as they rush over to assist? “‘Is everyone alive?” or “They seem to be OK but this one is unconscious.” Or perhaps “Frank, call an ambulance, these guys need immediate help!”

No, what I hear is “Fucking hell, it’s Manfred Mann, can I have an autograph?”

Fame is such that even when faced with a wrecked vehicle which could have killed them or the injured people in the car, the first thoughts of these good British citizens is to get an autograph.

Two days later, I am in hospital with bruised ribs. It is a Friday afternoon.

I notice that several empty beds are being made up and prepared for patients. I ask the nurse why is there suddenly all this activity, has there been a major accident.

She replies “No, it’s for tonight’s accidents.”

I have never lost the image of someone happily leaving home for the evening, not knowing that somewhere else, a nurse is preparing a hospital bed for them. Patient and nurse will meet for the first time later that night.

¹ Paul Jones, lead singer of the Manfred Mann group till 1966.

² A1 (a dual carriageway, not a motorway)

Manfred Mann

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