Emma Kirkby

25 January 2009
Metatarsal Number Five

Well, the teetering piles of papers have their revenge at last! On my one free day in several weeks, as I gleefully busied myself trying to fit in too many things, I stepped across the road in a hurry, caught my right foot in a drainage grating and went flying, about two doors down from my house. Kind neighbours rushed out with blankets and called an ambulance; at first I thought this was excessive but soon had to admit it was not, as I couldn't easily sit up, let alone stand, without dizziness. I still thought, though, that after X-rays I'd be sent home strapped up for a while. I hadn't reckoned with the exceedingly heavy plaster cast I'd have to drag around for the first week, nor with the crutches that will be with me until I'm allowed to put weight on that foot, probably in early March! It was certainly humbling to be given my first lesson in crutch technique; I'd never had any idea what a skill that is.

There was some luck in all this; firstly the kindness of James Jolly, who had had an appointment with me for a fifteen-minute interview. He followed the ambulance in his car and stayed with me for the full five hours, drove me home and did the interview. It was wonderful to have his support and delightful company. Secondly, the break is the fifth metatarsal, and fairly simple. No resetting was needed, only immobilization for four to six weeks while it mends itself.

People ask me if I'm in pain; the answer after the first 24 hours was - hardly at all in the foot, just in various outraged muscles elsewhere in my body. Now they're getting used to it, and I've also had wonderful help from my brilliant acupuncturist neighbour. As well as the treatments, she gave me a big talking-to the third day, as I pondered which engagements I might manage. She pointed to my foot and said "that's your work for the next few weeks. It needs your energy more than anything else; do you want it available for next month or the next decades?"

So, apart from two engagements of repertoire that's fine and desirable to sing sitting down, I'm sorry to say my diary is one big crater until about the end of February. And those papers are saying "You're ours now - you've got plenty of time to work out strategies for sorting us out!"