I heard on BBC Radio 4 this morning that a new, large scale study into near death experiences is being coordinated by the University of Southampton. This is the phenomenon where people near death report of floating above the medical staff or seeing a bright light. The interviewer on Radio 4 was quick to dismiss all this nonsense and the scientist tried to tread a fine line between enthusiasm for the subject and not being seen as one of those loonies who actually believe that nonsense.
Well, I could save them a huge amount of money and time if they really want to know whether these things happen. They could just ask me.
36 years ago, I was travelling in various parts of Africa with my father. I stayed for a couple of months in a small, distant village in West Africa and, having acted as a hearty meal for a whole community of mosquitoes over several weeks, unsurprisingly I got malaria. I was laid up for a few days with fever and so on as I battled my first encounter with the potentially fatal malaria without the benefit of proper medication. A group of local women were dispatched to sit at my bedside and wait for me to either die or get better.
After several days it appears that things were going in the wrong direction because I can remember as clear as day hovering up by the ceiling looking down on the ladies and smiling to myself (as only a hovering, cheeky 9 year old boy can) thinking "hahaha look at them, they are looking down at my body crying but they don't know I am up here behind them all the time hehehehhe".
Whilst some of the ladies wailed at me, much to my amusement, one of them rushed out to get my no nonsense dad. Very no nonsense dad. A few minutes later he came steaming in, charged over to the bed and sat down.
"Yikes" I thought. "If he looks around and catches me messing about up here on the ceiling when I am supposed to be sick in bed, I am in big, big trouble!" I was scared out of my wits, or rather I was scared back in to my wits because next think I know I am back in the bed looking up nervously thinking "Did he spot me on the ceiling? Am I for it?"
I texted him today (he's still in West Africa) after listening to the Radio 4 piece asking if he remembers. He replied immediately "That was 1972 I believe. It is indeed the case that high fever and delirium usually accompanying untreated malaria causes hallucinations and terrifying delusions".
Hrruumphhhh. Dismiss my near-death experience just like that eh, like the cynic on the radio? I know what I experienced. And anyway, what sort of person writes long sentences like that in text messages anyhow? (Gosh, I really hope he doesn't read blog posts or I am in big, big trouble!).