Sunday, October 16, 2005

Brush with fame at Richmond Deer Park

On our excursions at Richmond Deer Park yesterday, we went to the cafe/restaurant. We arrived about 2pm and because it was unseasonably warm there were probably a lot more people in the park then they expected. Much of the food had run-out by the time we got there, so a lot of the people in the cafe were sort of stumbling about trying to choose something tasty.

One of the people who looked like he was having a hard time deciding was a man in a wheelchair. I went past him as he stared somewhat blankly at the picked-over cakes. But he soon rallied and was behind me in line trying to help his daughters choose something from the hot meals (cabbage soup, fish and chips with a side of turnips, or ham steak and pineapple).

I tried not to stare at him, but he looked awfully familiar, and sounded familiar, too. I didn't want to look too much, because what is the etiquette for staring at someone who might be a minor celebrity who also happens to be in a wheelchair? I couldn't remember his name, but I wondered if he was the BBC reporter who was shot and paralysed in a terror incident in Saudi Arabia last year and whom I'd seen on tv the night before receiving a medal from the Queen. (Maybe along with the medal he got some Royal Parks cafeteria gift certificates!)

So I looked him up on the Internet, and I do believe that it was Frank Gardner. And coincidentally he had a piece on BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House this morning, a rather moving piece on those who had survived the 7/7 attacks, some of them horrendously injured, as they go on with their lives 100 days after the London Transport murders.

1 comment:

Sam said...

When I lived in Cambridge for several months in 1988, I had a run in with a man in a wheelchair too. I was working at the Pizza Hut and always started off my day with a pot of tea and an apricot danish at this little cafe across the street from Kings College Chapel. One drizzly spring morning, as I walked out of the cafe I was watching a crowd of Japanese tourists file into the chapel, videocameras at the ready. Since I was watching the sights instead of where I was walking, I toppled on top of this poor man bundled up in a great coat and muffler. He was sitting in the strangest wheelchair I'd ever seen. It had two video displays on flexible stalks and an odd keyboard. I climbed off the poor fella, offered apologies as profuse as I could manage, and stumbled off down the road. I was 50 yards down the road before I realized I'd just fallen into the lap of Stephen Hawking.