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.