‘The ambulance would be at least an hour and that they should do what first aid they could until the paramedics arrived’

To: Don Wise, chief executive

From: Paul Servant, operations

Re: Life on Mars

Dear Don

Thank you for the thoughtful gift of a signed copy of your new book Wise Words, an anthology of your greatest press releases. It was a great inspiration to me while convalescing following my recent accident.

I am taking the time to do it justice by reading it thoroughly and will feed back soon.

I can’t remember knocking myself unconscious when I was flung off the treadmill in the hotel gym. Apparently I pressed the emergency stop button while running at high speed.

After that things became very surreal. At one stage I thought I had travelled back in time.

I have a vague memory of becoming conscious again in an accident and emergency cubicle. I could hear David Bowie’s Life on Mars coming from a radio somewhere.

I realised after a while that I had been hallucinating because my watch showed that I’d been in the A&E cubicle for over 10 hours.

I overheard a nurse talking about blue light ambulances queuing around the block for hours to get their patients into A&E.

At the same time a doctor was screaming down the phone to someone to start going round the wards to kick out the bed blockers so they could shift emergency patients.

I was obviously delirious because I clearly believed I had a conversation with an old chap on a trolley in the corridor who said his GP had called an ambulance for him, to get him admitted as an emergency, so that he could have a bypass operation that he would have many months to wait for otherwise.

I could not imagine what brought on these flashbacks to the bad old days.

I do distinctly remember having an out of body experience at the time of the accident, with the gym supervisor saying they had called 999.

But the ambulance would be at least an hour and that they should do what first aid they could until the paramedics arrived.

When I finally regained consciousness it all made sense.

I was on holiday in Wales.