Rob parked his ambulance on
the remote moorland road next to the twisted
remains of a crash barrier. He grabbed his
paramedic kit and rushed down the hillside to
where the Mondeo had stopped on impact with a
My names Rob,
Im a paramedic, he said to the lone,
male occupant of the vehicle. I need to
check if youre injured.
Shortly afterwards, Rob
radioed the control room: Tango Bravo
One male occupant
Trapped in vehicle
Fire and Rescue ETA twenty
Rob looked again at the
victim and felt a faint sense of recognition. He
took his personal PDA from his pocket. Can
I check a few details while we wait?
Sure, came the
reply. Itll take my mind off all
Rob took a name, address,
date of birth and other information and fed the
data into his computer.
It displayed: 1969
Ten No Details.
Rob was astounded by the
To those around him, Rob
appeared affable and mild mannered. He had never
been known to lose his temper whatever the
provocation. This was because, since childhood,
he had kept a record of injustices towards
himself, together with details of their
perpetrators. He then secretly selected and
enacted appropriate retribution as circumstances
He assigned a number
between one and ten to each offence. Offenders at
Level One deserved some minor annoyance such as
having their car aerials snapped off. Offences at
Level Ten, however, demanded summary execution.
the date of the affront. He used notebooks back
then. When Rob had later compiled an electronic
database, some paper records had been lost.
Clearly no details remained of the 1969 offence.
Nevertheless, it was unusual to forget the
circumstances of a Ten.
Tens included the man who
had run off with his wife and who had
subsequently been killed in that unexplained gas
explosion. Then there was his adulterous ex-wife,
herself, who had been the tragic victim of a,
never found, hit-and-run driver. And not
forgetting the boss who fired him after ten loyal
years at the meat packing factory - the one who
had accidentally fallen into an industrial mincer.
What were you doing
in 1969? Rob asked.
His patient thought this an
odd question but concluded that Rob was trying to
distract him with conversation. I was a
traffic warden in Hammersmith.
Rob had lived in
Hammersmith in 1969, but his memory was not
refreshed. Rob considered himself tough, but fair:
Parking tickets might warrant a One or a Two, but
never a Ten.
The driver found that
talking calmed his anxiety and continued to
recount his life. He showed Rob family
photographs from his wallet. Very rapidly Rob
discovered much about his companion and, indeed,
began to like him. The Ten, however, remained
Rob heard sirens. Fire and
Rescue would arrive shortly. He withdrew a
syringe from his bag. This will calm, you,
he said as he administered the injection.
Rob climbed to the road and
met the rescue team. A delayed heart attack,
he said. Must have been the shock.
Rob returned sadly to his
ambulance. The accident victim had seemed a very
nice chap, and Rob could still not recall their
encounter in 1969.
A Ten, however, was a Ten.