And I think it’s safe to say no one knows rebirth better than Mardibooks writer Philip Watling. In December 1994, Philip’s life changed forever when he was hit by a car whilst on his way to work. When the car crashed into his legs, he incurred several injuries as he dislocated his shoulder before bouncing off of the bonnet and cracking his head on the side of a passing bus, sustaining massive head injuries.
This caused his heart to stop, rendering Philip momentarily dead. And he may very well have remained this way if not for London’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service’s quick response. However, the battle was not over there.
After the accident, Philip was told by doctors he would not be able to perform basic human functions, such as walking and talking, which we generally take for granted, let alone being able to drive a car or ride a horse, activities he could do prior to the accident.
18 months after having received the doctor’s prognosis, Philip had completed all the activities that the doctors believed would never be possible for him again.
After his terrible ordeal, Philip decided to write and publish an autobiography based on his accident, as he phrases it the book is “about his life, his death and his resurrection.” He explains that when he died (when his heart stopped beating), the old Philip died at that moment. He would never be the same person again; a new Philip was reborn from the accident.
Here is the opening page from ‘Flight of a Lifetime’ by Philip Watling:
BANG!! The car hit me. Quite what happened nobody knows; my memory appears to have stopped the night before the accident, though that whole week may be lost in the mists of time. I feel certain that whatever small part of my brain, enrolled to remember the days surrounding my accident, was expelled – burnt up like a Christian worshipper in a satanic cookery programme as my brain cells fried.
“You’re lucky,” I was told. “You don’t want to remember what happened.”
Like turning off a computer before a file is saved, the brain shuts down in moments of intense stress, erasing the events that caused that catastrophe from any hope of remembrance. Yet I was on a bus and I never travelled on buses around London. This coincidence, so close to my accident, is one too many; I want to remember.
It is a cliché, told by parents to their children to make them wear clean underpants: “If you get knocked down by a bus tomorrow …” The trouble was it happened… it happened to me… it could have happened to anyone…
Philip leaves our Mardibooks community with a final comment:
“My tip for writing autobiographies: write from the heart.”