When I was a child, I was told that you should never switch a light on or off with wet hands, because electricity and water don’t mix – or rather, they mix too well. I thought this was stupid – how could the electricity possibly get out of that sealed insulated switch and connect up with the tiny amount of water on my finger? I got no sympathy. “Just don’t do it.” There’s no arguing with these grown-ups. So I didn’t, and drying my hands before operating the light became a lifelong habit.
I remembered that this morning when, after cleaning my teeth, I switched the light on to shave: with a wet finger, of course. One day back in the early spring, I’d nicked my face shaving. Now this is not a good idea when you’re on Warfarin. My blood clots half as quickly as most people’s. I’d been wet-shaving for fifty years, and cut myself maybe a dozen times, but that wasn’t the point. So I went out and bought an electric razor. I don’t particularly like it, and it doesn’t do the job as well, but you can’t be too careful, can you?
But a change is under way. I emerged from the hospital a fortnight ago clutching a raft of advice and prohibitions, some of which were about driving. Depending on which leaflet you read and who you listened to, the recommendations varied bewilderingly. I had to wait for six weeks before I could get behind the wheel; four weeks; two weeks; and “not until I felt ready.” A couple of days ago I felt ready, so I thought what the heck and nipped up to Waitrose. I seem to have survived.
So I may have been overly risk-averse for much of my life. On the other hand, I did walk away in 1965 from a promising career in a glass shop to join a rock ‘n’ roll band. But that was an emotional decision, not a rational one.