Turns out you can’t eat grass. A horse does something clever to it in its mouth that humans can’t. Fine, so it was an absolutely ludicrous thing to do. But I blame the ex-builder boyfriend (who is not an ex-builder, he’s an ex-boyfriend, for those who have queried that). He and I were in Tara’s field, assessing whether the retired mare was in danger of laminitis, when the ex-BB said: ‘Trust me, this grass is sweet. Taste it.’
And for reasons I barely understand, I knelt down, plucked a handful of grass, put it in my mouth and chewed.
‘Ooh, it’s delicious!’ I exclaimed, for truly it was tastier than a gourmet salad. I then got carried away and instead of spitting, I swallowed.
Oh yes, very funny. I know. The BB laughed and laughed. And I started choking, and spluttering, ‘I’ve got some of it stuck! Help!’ The BB told me to go to the petrol station on my way home and buy a fizzy drink. He was off to have dinner with friends.
I drove to the garage, swigged various drinks, ate sandwiches and sucked cough sweets, then rang him back in a panic to say something sharp was still stuck in my throat, but he wasn’t answering. So I drove myself to the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford.
I had to leave Cydney in the car and put a £3.50 ticket on the windscreen that involved typing into the digital parking machine a number on the parking bay that was worn invisible. The parking warden told me off for not being able to do it. ‘I’m choking on a thorn!’ I extemporised, so he assigned me the fictitious bay number 500, as a special treat.
Inside, the receptionist didn’t begin to understand the concept of swallowing grass. She called a nurse who led me to a cubicle.
I opened my mouth and begged him to help but he shook his head. I would be assessed by the triage nurse — in an estimated 23 minutes’ time. Then I would go on the list to be seen by a doctor — estimated wait 1 hour 30.
After 1 hour 30, I got to the triage nurse who demanded, ‘And why did you eat grass?’ as if I had eaten a baby.
I asked her to please just look in my mouth, using one of those tongue depressors the dentist uses.
‘There are no dentists here,’ she said, in chilling tones. Moreover, the wait to see the doctor was now three hours. I told her I was leaving then. ‘I seriously warn you not to,’ she snarled, as if her head was about to swivel like in The Exorcist.
On the way out, I heard the receptionist arguing with a paramedic: ‘But I need to put his religion down!’ Some poor chap was evidently unconscious and unable to fill out the mandatory diversity form.
All things considered, I drove home, Googled ‘thorn stuck in throat’ and tried swallowing boiling water. It was like a scene from Rambo, but did seem to work a bit. The next day, however, I could feel something was still there.
I decided to try the Royal London, where I previously had some luck with a piece of food stuck in my gum. I rang the assistant of the doctor I’d seen previously.
Before I could explain anything about how the grass got swallowed, she told me: ‘It doesn’t matter what you were doing, dear. We cast no judgment.’
‘But I wasn’t doing anything exotic. I was just, er…’
Hang on. Maybe I should come up with a bizarre, fornication-based excuse because that would be more convincing than just eating grass for the hell of it.
But the lady was explaining that she wasn’t sure it was her man’s speciality, as he was maxillo-facial, and this might be ENT.
She ordered me to the Royal London A&E, where as I tried to approach the counter a chorus of disembodied voices yelled: ‘Get behind the red line!’ as if I were trying to cross the border of a terrifying dictatorship. When I was finally permitted to approach, the receptionist asked: ‘How did you get here, by public transport …or private?’
‘The Tube?’ I tried. And she nodded, and allowed me to wait below a sign saying, ‘Don’t forget to tell us your ethnic category.’
Eventually, a doctor called me into a cubicle and explained that he couldn’t look down my throat using a tongue depressor and pull the grass out with tweezers.
He did, however, send me to the ENT department on the 12th floor, where a very nice specialist looked down my throat using a tongue depressor, and pulled the grass out with tweezers.
‘That was easy,’ she said, holding aloft the single blade. ‘Shame someone couldn’t have done that earlier.’