Saturday, November 9, 2013

Experiencing Horror.

A few days ago it occurred to me that I've had my fair share of horror in my life. No longterm horror, living through war, abuse, disease or anything like that, but enough small individual experiences and moments that all make great fodder for writing.

Let me explain and give a few examples.

As a youngster, I sometimes used to go and spend weekends with my Grandparents. Now while most Grandparents lived in regular houses with yards, my Grandparents didn't. They were live in caretakers at the Royal College of Surgeons. Which meant that we had long hallways, labs and lecture theatres to play in. And, of course, the museum.

Looking back, it's a wonder I wasn't scarred (or scared) by wandering through glass cases exhibiting real body parts, often with cut-aways to reveal muscle, bones and organs. I even remember walking into one of the labs one day where a cadaver was laid on the autopsy table in a clear bag. I believe that's one occasion when I ran out immedately.

And yes, now, as an adult, it seems strange a body was left on the table overnight. (I do recall the room was chilled - or maybe that was just me!)

As I said, all good writing fodder.

Later, as a police officer, I've faced even more horror. I've held a month old baby in my arms that was completely blue and cold, I held a man in my arms, seated in his blood pouring from a gunshot wound, and watched him die. I performed CPR on the victim of a motorcycle accident who had half his leg missing. I've knocked on doors and asked to speak with family members after fatal accidents. I've faced people armed with knives and sawn-off shotguns. I've talked a man out of cutting himself any further, and taken people into mental institutions because they were no longer coping in the real world.

Of course there's more, and some of this is just the obvious stuff.

We all face horror in our lives, and it's all a matter of degrees. I've seen people in much worse situations than I've ever been in. And there are others I've merely read about who have faced horrors of the most unimaginable kinds.

But those moments, of dealing with people, speaking to others living in different realities to mine. It truly is an amazing life experience to have had.

And I consider myself most fortunate.

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