I recently received a letter, dear reader, from a photographer:
Dear Mr Saucepot*
My name is David O'Neill. Please accept my apologies for this intrusion. Mr Saucepot, if you are the same Roy Saucepot who lost an arm in an accident, I photographed you for the Mail On Sunday in May 1986 in your garden with a cricket bat. Mr Saucepot, I was wondering how you were getting along after twenty one years since the accident.
If it's not too much of a bother, I would be most grateful if you could contact me. My number's on the top of the page. Once again, sorry for the intrusion.
Obviously, I am not that same Roy Saucepot. In May 1986, I would have been thirteen years old. But I do remember the incident. Mr Saucepot made the local news! His arm had been ripped off in a farming accident, I think with either a combine harvester or a hay bailer. With his other hand and mouth, applied a tourniquet, tucked the limb under his arm, walked two miles to his home, popped the arm in the freezer, called for an ambulance and made himself a cup of tea.
My surname is far from common in the UK, indeed, in the world, so I was quite shocked to hear someone with whom not only did I share a forename, but also a surname, mentioned on the television news. The newsreader mentioned the hospital Mr Saucepot had been admitted to. As I recall, it was the hospital in or near Odstock. I sent him a greetings card, wishing him a speedy recovery, mentioning that he and I shared the same name.
I never heard from Mr Saucepot. I've been quite sad about it from that day to this. My thoughts often turn to the old farmer and wonder what happened to him. Did the medical professionals manage to reattach his arm? If so, did it stay on? Could he carry on working?
All Saucepots are not the same...
I called Mr O'Neill. A very charming and interesting man. He told me he was a journalist and had recently covered a couple of stories concerning people who had been given a new arm, just in the same manner as organ donation. In the cases Mr O'Neill had covered, the recipients didn't like it and had demanded the removal of their new limbs.
I told David I was sorry that I wasn't the Mr Saucepot he was looking for. He told me there are only three in the whole country. I presume he'd contacted them all and was unlucky. Before ending the conversation, we wondered if the Mr Saucepot in question was dead. I suppose we'll never know.
There's next to nothing about him on the internet. All I could find was him being mentioned in a Times quiz, question number seven to be exact.
*Not my real name.