Tuesday, 6 December 2011


No, not that!  Not even this from 1958.  This is about the real thing.  I was sidetracked the other day, by an itchy thumb, to write at more length than I’d intended about the only tumble, thus far, that has left a detectable trace (at least on the outside of me – I have no way of knowing about the mental consequences of being dropped on my head all those times before I was three).  But there have been others, so here are just a few.

For years, we went to south Pembrokeshire for our summer holidays.  Our rented house was just up the hill from Wiseman’s Bridge beach, and it was always my secret ambition to be first down there and up to the top of the Big Rock.  This particular year, I was probably eight, I ran too fast down the road and swerved to avoid an approaching car.  Unthinkable today, of course, but cars were few and far between then.  I went over forwards and removed much of the skin from my right knee.  Why is this memorable?  Because I still remember, as if I were hearing it, my instant thought: “I’m not going to cry!”  And I didn’t.
Fast forward to 1967, Milan.  We have somehow fallen in with a patroness who collects artistic butterflies on Friday evenings in her huge apartment.  She has an invisible husband and an all too visible daughter.  I am forced to play a duet with someone who claims to be Django Reinhardt’s son, and might well be.  We leave as the sun is rising, and decide it’d be fun to see if we can jump between a number of raised traffic islands, spaced about two metres apart.  I can, twice: but not three times.  This time, it’s my left cheek.  I tell a lie to my girlfriend about slipping on a dropped ice cream.  She asks me what flavour it was.
You know those ‘director chairs’, the sort of rectangular ones which have ‘Michael Winner’ or something written on the back?  Well, there’s a subspecies in which the backrest is on pivots, so that you can lean comfortably back into it whilst watching the rushes or whatever it is directors do.  Do not, under any circumstances, reach out to one of these to steady yourself when stumbling on an uneven garden path after consuming three blue cocktails.  In fact, do not under any circumstances ever consume a blue cocktail.  Cracked rib that time.
I could go on.  The time my foot missed the skid mat in the shower in a hotel room as I attempted to turn it down from scalding; the time I unwisely accepted, and smoked, an unaccustomed cigarette and then tried to walk up a steep grassy slope in the dark; the time when I lost my dancing balance and narrowly avoided landing on top of a sleeping small child on a sofa …  but I think I have delighted you enough.  We all fall once in a while.


  1. I once slipped on a tiled floor in a Madras bathroom. My feet left the floor, I landed flat on my back and then the back of my head hit said floor with a resounding crack. Then I got up, had my shower and, actually, you're the first person I've ever told about that. In the instant between my back and my head hitting the floor, I thought I was going to die. Felt a bit silly when I didn't even get a headache.

  2. And I thought, from the title, this was going to be about the Markets.

  3. I did fall off the back of a lorry, once...seriously.

  4. There's a certain age when you will stop "falling over" and start "having falls".

  5. Z, falling over in a bathroom is actually a Zen experience. Not one I want to repeat though.

    Soaring - don't be silly, you know that stuff doesn't interest me at all. Besides, the Markets are soaring today.

    Martin - oh well, better than falling in front of one I suppose.

    Rog, I know. The saving grace is that, when that time comes, I probably won't know.

  6. I have also had a bathroom fall in a very small bathroom. I somehow managed to fall out of the bath whilst having a shower, of course I grabbed the shower curtain and brought down the shower curtain rail; I ended up with my head wedged against the radiator. I don't know how this happened. I was on my own.

  7. I fell out of a moving car when I was six (before childlocks had been invented I suppose). It didn't teach me anything though, I went on to fall off large numbers of horses, one roof and an enormous pavement in Cairo.

  8. Scarlet, welcome! Like I said, pure Zen. Wouldn't have been the same with others present.
    Mig - the image of an enormous pavement in Cairo will not be forgotten.

  9. I fell over in a bathroom in New York, cracked my head on the toilet bowl and was promptly sick. I never worked out whether it was the fall or the alcohol which made me sick.

    I fell downstairs once whilst vacuuming and pulled the vacuum cleaner on top of me, making a big dent in the wall and my head. It took ages to get rid of the blood from the carpet.