Thursday, May 08, 2003

Back behind the wheel for the first time since the accident.

Went for a driving assessment this morning to find out how I’m going to drive now my right foot’s no longer able to do the, er, leg work for me.

In theory the solution’s simple enough; an automatic transmission with the accelerator pedal switched so I can drive with my left foot rather than my left. In practice it means overcoming years of motoring habit. If I want to speed up or brake my right leg instinctively reaches for the pedals -- but now the leg just dangles in mid air. I’m sure I’ll get used to it in time. Went for a spin around the block in a modified car. It felt exactly like taking my driving test all over again, especially since my test run followed almost the exact same roads I took my original test on. Deja vu.

This afternoon I had a chance to re-tell some war stories with In Charge Oggy and Studio Manager Steve, two colleagues from Northern Iraq. Over lunch we shared tales from the frontline. As I flicked through their photos taken in Kirkuk, Tikrit and Baghdad I felt a deep pang -- as though I’d read an 800 page thriller only to find the final chapter missing.

The explosion cut my assignment short, just before the final act. I never got to see the presidential palaces, people celebrating the fall of Saddam or the oil fields of Kirkuk. By the time Baghdad fell I was in hospital in Cardiff, mourning the loss of my foot and wondering what the future held. The photos made the accident, the amputation and everything that’s happened since melt away. I just wanted to be back in the field; chasing stories, watching history unfold, doing what I do.

Photo: Lunch with Oggy and Steve

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