(May 1999) Chief Barker

I believe that a Chief Barker is a member of the Theatrical Profession who is elected to supervise and organise philanthropic ventures.

My “Chief Barker” is Keith Sabin’s dog who alerted Keith to my serious trouble when I slipped and fell flat on my back on the small lawn at the back of “Hillcrest” on Wednesday, 17th February at 5p.m. In my left hand I clutched an empty milk bottle, which surprisingly remained there unbroken, and in my right hand a plastic bag full of ash from the kitchen stove, for placing in the “wheely-bin”. This bag remained unbroken and I placed it under my head as a pillow. Now in the gathering gloom and with a slight drizzle falling, l began to call “Help”, and “Help me”. I continued for 40 to 45 minutes not realising until the end that the “Chief Barker” was responding to my calls to the extent that Keith realised something was wrong and came round and found me and prompted Miss Judith Weeks to phone for an ambulance. Meanwhile Judith and her lady guest covered me with warm coats plus a hotwaterbottle on my chest; the milk bottle remained in my left hand and I recalled that my last plan to attract attention would be to hurl it over the fence at the ground floor windows of the neighbouring flat.

The ambulance with paramedics arrived at about 7.15p.m. and by 8 o’clock I was in the Accident and Casualty at the Horton and was soon X-rayed and a broken femur confirmed.

The main purpose of this story is to pay sincere and heartfelt tribute to Keith’s dog and to Keith in the belief that, had I not been found but had lain prostrate on my back all night, I might not have been here to tell the tale. My sincere thanks also to Judith Weeks and her friend and to the ambulance crew who lifted me into their vehicle with such expert care. My thanks also to those good friends who have visited me and sent me gifts. As to the Horton Doctors, Surgeons and Staff, they have shown me the utmost kindness and care coupled with their expert skills; truly we are fortunate in having such a gem of a hospital in Banbury. I think my recovery is several weeks ahead and I shall then have a chance to thank “Bonzo” in person, although he will probably try to bite me – such is the perversity of canine nature! As soon as I am sufficiently recovered and at home I will thank everybody by phone or letter.

Reg Craig