Have you noticed the way that when children fall over and scrape their knees that plasters with an assortment of cartoon characters are provided as are cold compresses featuring Mr Bump? In some cases chocolate is also proffered to silence their wails? Personally I’m always amazed at the restorative qualities of a jammy dodger.
Yesterday, I was in the process of moving a garden pot from the boot of the car to its new home. It’s a lovely frost proof blue ceramic pot and I’m very fond of it – more fond than I realised in fact because when my ankle gave way for no apparent reason not only did I manage a very passable impersonation of a sack of potatoes but I didn’t let go of the pot as I fell. Result? Scraped knee, bruises and a pair of very scuffed shoes but an undamaged pot.
HWIOO emerged from the garage and uttered the immortal words, “What are you doing down there?”
Given that I looked as though I’d decided on an impromptu prayer on the tarmac circa Pope John Paul II I didn’t think a reply was absolutely necessary especially as I progressed to clutching my foot and knee whilst trying not to howl – why is it acceptable for six-year-olds to express their angst but an adult is required to exhibit a stiff upper lip? In any event after I’d extracted the gravel from my knee, partaken of a medicinal gin and enjoyed a long soak in the bath I felt much better- though I’m not sure why everything aches so much. I know that if I fell when I was a child I bounced rather better. No doubt it has something to do with bone elasticity and being nearer to the ground.
Okay there is a balance to be struck here. Scraped knees in my childhood inevitably meant horrible sticky fabric plasters slapped on by unsympathetic teachers despite me saying that I was allergic to plasters which became so welded to my already battered flesh that they had to be soaked and then ripped off (to the accompaniment of many more wails and admonishments not to make so much fuss). Allow me to assure you that in the ’70s the stickiness of sticking plasters was ferocious as were the horrible red itchy little water blisters that my allergy to plasters generated (apparently its cause was the same chemical that you can find in leylandii because the rosin of leylandii is exceptionally sticky and lends itself to being used in sticking plasters!) It was many years before I discovered that the allergy was in fact contact dermatitis. Just what you want in addition to bruising and grazes. Then there was the ‘joy’ of thick yellow gunge resulting from the ensuing infection and much dabbing with savlon soaked cotton wool…gross.
These days I’m in good company. My friend Hattie’s catalogue of accidents include a fracture in China that outstrips any of my demonstrations of how to move base over apex- she is able to list and rank her falls in order of unpleasantness and inconvenience. Her stumble and the resulting agony of her China expedition makes my falling over look positively amateur. It is perhaps not surprising that HWIOO and Archie spend a lot of time looking for trip hazards when they’re in our company. The sight of wet autumn leaves is enough for both of them to go slightly pale and start steering us away from the danger. HWIOO is also rather good at grabbing me as I lurch in a floor wards bound direction because I’ve tripped over the kerb…or my own feet.
But neither Hattie nor I are in the same league as Tatiana who managed to do something deeply unpleasant to her foot in Harrogate simply by crossing the road without the aid of stairs, ice, wet leaves or even a banana skin. Stan it transpires is just as used as HWIOO and Archie to the sensation of discovering that his spouse is no longer at his side but at floor level looking a)pained b)embarrassed c) startled – any or all combinations may apply.