Friday, 2 December 2011

Scar Itch

I was going to write a comical piece about the several times in my life that I have fallen over, and the consequences; but then I got this itch in the pulp of my right thumb.  Proust did taste and smell, of course, and we all do sight and sound, all the time.  But there aren’t many times, I think, when the sense of touch triggers a madeleine moment.  This is one.

It was the early summer of 1964, a Saturday evening.  We used to go to the Bure Club at Highcliffe as often as we could afford it.  It was one of the only two places to be in the Bournemouth area (the other being the Disque a Gogo in Holdenhurst Road).  The big visiting American blues names played the Bure: Hooker, Muddy, I forget who else.  On this occasion it was the Animals, and it was important to be there early, so as to get a couple of beers sunk and be near the front when they came on.  We were anti-Animals, for all sorts of reasons.  They were slick, commercial, about to sell out and, to be honest, just too bloody good.  Whereas we were thrashing around trying to put together a group, any sort of group.  A drummer, any sort of drummer, was number three on my wish list, after a couple of girls whose names I remember (but had better not mention here).
I was late.  I’m not sure why, probably due to negotiation with my parents about use of the car, a ritual which had to be performed even though the outcome was always the same (ending with and don’t forget to put some petrol in!).  So I parked up and ran.  You had to park outside the grounds and then proceed on foot through the entrance and up a gravel drive.  In the middle of the gateway there was one of those sticking-up metal stops that prevent the gate going the wrong way when it’s closed.  That’s what I tripped over.
And that’s the fall-over – the film.  My legs stop dead whilst the rest of me carries on.  My right arm goes out to break the fall, palm first.  Gravel digs in.  I get up, rather too quickly, and carry on; blood is dribbling from my hand, but I find a handkerchief and mop it up.  It doesn’t seem too bad.  I get inside the club …
Three days later, Dr Hall-Reid (rather viciously I thought) scrubbed away the incipient gangrene or whatever it was, put a dressing on, prescribed some penicillin and told me I was lucky.  Some sympathetic musical colleague said ‘Yes, lucky it wasn’t your left, or you wouldn’t be able to play.’
The scar’s survived, for five decades.  It’s tiny, quarter of an inch long and just detectable by touch if you know it’s there.  It throws up an itch every so often. 


  1. I suppose a bass player might achieve a degree of relief from an itchy thumb?

    I remember falling, as a kid, and how quickly I would try and spring to my feet to limit the embarrassment. Then in 1993 I took my biggest tumble to date, and was on crutches for 6 months after. It's a long way down, when you're grown up.

  2. That is a superbly written post, Tim.

  3. Ugh, so now I'm going to have to do the other six (or is it seven, one loses count). Only minor bone-breaks so far, Martin.
    Z - thank you, darling!

  4. Excellent piece.

    Resonates. Indulge me, please.
    The itch – like the Barbados toe, 4 years on, which still recurs – the big toe stubbed on the steps up from the beach. I hope to exorcise this in January.
    The Bure Club, of course – I knew I’d shared a Newcastle Brown with Eric Burdon somewhere. Always thought it was the Wheelhouse but couldn’t work it out, they didn’t do alcohol there. I’m afraid I don’t recall your trip, but this was the 60s. I expect you had to drag me along, probably why you were late. Sorry.
    Dr Hall-Reid – my introduction to deep and fearsome Scottish accents.

  5. Did Eric Burdon put extra soul into "We gotta get out of this place" for the Bournemouth gig?

  6. It's amazing how little things like that can instantly cast you back years and produce such vivid memories. I have a tiny scar on my hand caused by trying to de-stone an overripe avocado and stabbing myself instead - nowhere near as glamorous as rushing to see Eric Burdon!

  7. Soaring, I don't remember you being there for the trip. I'd probably sent you ahead to get the beers in.
    Rog, 'Place' was at least eighteen months in the future. Do pay attention at the back.
    CQ - ouch! I felt that!