Thursday, 14 January 2010

Getting Beaten Up

I don’t like things being stuck in my ears. I am in the audiology testing room of the Ear, Nose and Throat department. A nurse is inserting a protrusion into my ear, some men pay for this type of experience.

The Doctor tells me I have Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, small crystals have been dislodged in my inner ear. They cause me to feel dizzy. I have been feeling dizzy for two months now. He also tells me I have lost some of the top range of my hearing in my left ear. He says it may well come back but he isn’t sure.

I am surprised to find myself feeling slightly angry. I haven’t allowed myself to feel angry for two months.

I’m also going to have another head CT to check that my skull fracture hasn’t affected my inner ear or that any infection has gone from my ear to my brain. Or vice versa. Christ.

Two months ago I played a show in Nottingham. I don’t look forward to these types of shows; a gig that turns into a club, bouncers on the door, a queue of bare legged strumpets and shaven headed Ben Shermans outside waiting for the band to fuck off.

With gigs like this I feel like you're parachuting in emergency supplies. The audience was great and the show was fine but I don’t really like this job on these nights. I am slightly travel phobic. I enjoy playing live but I’m always homesick. This is no way for a man my age to behave. Every year I say it’s time to get a proper job.

After the show we took the gear to the hotel and me and our drummer, Dave Sheppard went to park the hire car. Nottingham is a rabbit warren of one-way streets. I needed the toilet badly so pulled up in the wrong place.

Someone walked across the front of the car and I knew we were in trouble. He said, ‘Give me some money or I’ll take your car.’ I guess he was a bit like Dick Turpin.

I fumbled to lock the door but he pulled it open and hit me hard in the face. Everything else is a blur; I was pulled out of the car, there were four of them I think. I got to the ground and tried to cover myself. They just kept hitting and kicking my head. They seemed really angry about something. I was heavily concussed.

I remember being on the pavement with Dave beside me and was surprised at the amount of blood on my shirt. I remember a paramedic asking if Dave could go through my pockets (they had stolen about five hundred quid). I remember an oxygen mask and the paramedic saying ‘try to calm down’. I remember babbling something to Dave about agoraphobia. I might have said he was my best mate or something like that. It was an intense time.

I wasn’t thinking about my physical injuries, I was worried about the psychological affect on me. I was thinking ‘I’ll never leave the house again’.

I remember seeing Bill, our bass player in a hospital corridor. I remember going feral when a nurse tried to put a thermometer in my ear. When did they start putting thermometers in your ear? I don’t like things being put in my ear.

I remember staggering down a corridor and pulling off my bandages. For days I would be confused as to why I wasn’t bandaged until I remembered this.

You wonder how people might react in a crisis. My band mates pulled through for me. Talking to the Doctors and Police, letting my wife know and taking care of me until she got there. I was lucky to be surrounded by such good friends. Franic Rozycki was also a trooper, visiting me in hospital, arranging the transport of the band equipment and car back to London.

About twelve hours after the event some lucidity returned to me. Helen was by my bedside. I had quite a headache.

I stayed in the hospital for three days. I had a little TV. One night I realised the whole ward was watching Top Gear at the same time. All the men were laughing at Alfa Romeo jokes that I didn’t understand.

Paul had the bed opposite me. He is an extra. You’ve probably seen him in the Rovers Return. He came over and said, ‘I’m sorry for shouting at you on the first night, we thought you were trouble.’

I said, ‘I don’t remember.’

Horace was an elderly man who shuffled around constantly asking where his bed was. I’m sure he knew where his bed was. He was looking for company.

The nurse came round with a thermometer and said ‘are you going to let me put this in your ear now?’

My face was purple. I had a large gash on the left hand side of my head. You could literally see the imprint of a shoe on my jaw. When I got up, the room spun around. Once I went to the toilet and the pain suddenly seared through my head. It was too much and I keeled over. I was lying on the floor and the pain was too much for me to move. I started being sick but couldn’t move my head so I was lying with my face in the mess.

It wasn’t a great day.

The police came to take a statement. They said that I was probably used to this sort of thing coming from London. I thought ‘No’. London has terrible violence it’s true but this particular brand of random, indiscriminate rage is articulated best in the provinces.

The head CT scans didn’t show any permanent damage but I had a linear fracture in my skull. It would take around six weeks to heal. The main problem for me was the pain and the dizziness. I was glad to go home.

Apart from the beating itself, getting beaten up has been an almost entirely positive experience. I have been made much more aware of the good side of human nature then the bad. I know it might sound like false humility given my occupation but I don’t think of myself as popular or well liked, what sort of arse-hole does?

I got texts, phone-calls, visits, tweets and gifts. It was overwhelming, really. Friends, family, all of Hefner and the Wave Pictures and total strangers showed such kindness and consideration. Somebody sent a Woody Allen film; Trena and Simone sent a Lego Millenium Falcon. People know me well. It’s a cliché but it made me better, quicker. Quite literally, having all these beautiful people around made my physical recovery so much faster.

The expected psychological trauma never came. I haven’t been gripped by agoraphobia or any anger towards my attackers. I don’t know why, it’s quite confusing. In fact my only psychological problem is worrying about why I have no psychological problem.

The dizziness won’t stop though. Some days are better than others and I guess it might be subsiding a little over time. It never quite makes me fall over but it is persistent. Hence I find myself at the Ear, Nose and Throat department at Whipps Cross Hospital.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is completely treatable. The deafness in one ear is high end and may also possibly correct itself.

None the less it makes me a little cross.

Which is a relief.


  1. Oh Darren
    Only just read this blog, tardy fool that I am.
    How bloody awful - glad to hear your recovering. best to you

  2. That's very shocking and traumatising. I can't understand that people can be so mean and aggressive. I'm sending you all my positive thoughts and good energy. Hope you continue to recover fast. You are strong and very courageous.

  3. Oof. I wince just reading this. The question that remains is whether the police have any hope of finding this guy? Maybe your sketch could help.

  4. Mr Hayman,

    On behalf of the provinces I can only apologise. I had tickets for the Birmingham show ans only found out about your awful ordeal after the cancellation. I was annoyed the show was cancelled UNTIL I found out why, and then I felt a berk.
    All the best on your continued recovery - I had a lego Darth Vadar when I was young - I tied a firelighter to it and set it on fire as part of a Super 8mm Sci-Fi epic I made as a kid. In retrospect I think this was a mistake!

    Regards, Paul

  5. What a terrifying experience. Best wishes toward a full 100% recovery.

  6. I'd heard from Robert that this happened - so glad you're pulling through okay Darren. Your attitude is inspiring. thanks for posting this.

  7. I am also glad you're recovering and I sympathize with the 'putting things in your ears' thing. This blog was a real treat to read though - especially the fact that you found positive in such a horrible situation. All the best! Hope you recover fully soon.

  8. I am glad that you enjoyed the Woody Allen film. You have given me so much pleasure over the years. The most bizarre event was sitting in the Marmont on Sunset Boulevard explaining that you were the only Englishman that knew how to write about sex. Turned out he knew you and went to Goldsmiths with you. Plus Lee Remick is one of my Top 8 records of all time. Ermm...that's it.


  9. Darren, only discovered u in september at the fleece in bristol. You are a gem! A real music man. Bought a fair chunk of ur stuff since that night and look forward to more. Hope the dizzy spells disapear in time, i get vertigo myself from time to time and it can restrict you, but passes with rest. Best of luck mate.

  10. Bloody hell. Shocking stuff. Wishing you a full recovery. Hope the police can identify and catch the scum who did this.

  11. Bloody hell, jut heard about this. Hope you get better soon Darren. Saw you in your Hefner days three times and a couple of times since then.

  12. Poor Darren, sorry to hear all that.

    Used to live in Nottingham and survived unscathed. There are some idiots everywhere though. Keep at it.

    Roger. Newcastle.