Twice in two days! – that’s what makes this simple act of falling over worthy of comment; and worrying too. I’ve not even bothered to get dressed today since I have no intention of going out into that dangerous world which lies beyond the front door.
Two days ago I was out minding the sheep, on my own. An extremely muddy steep pitch connects one field with another. I laboriously climbed up it by clinging to the fence, my shoes disappearing into the squelchy ooze at each measured step. However, I made it, and then, I suppose in the slight easing of concentration at a success achieved, at the top I leant lightly to my right and behind me to pat a friendly Hebridean. My right foot slipped out behind me at the extra pressure on it and, before I knew what had happened, I hit the ground with a thud, right thigh, hip, chest and shoulder taking the blow. Fortunately, the muddy ground was soft, so no physical harm done, but I knew straightaway I had a problem: how was I going to get up? And if I could not, who was going to find me? No-one knew where I was and I was some distance from a road or footpath.
The ground was slippery and my feet just could not get a purchase. So I spent painful minutes maneuvering my body by sliding on my side horizontally inch by inch on the mud, like a sledge on ice, towards the adjacent fence. Eventually I got close enough to get hold of the upper bar and at the fourth or fifth attempt managed to drag myself up and out of the glutinous mud. About a dozen sheep had unhelpfully watched this extraordinary performance but, being National Trust sheep and therefore well-mannered, made no comment. Covered from head to toe in mud, I must have looked like a mud-wrestler and indeed, when I eventually reached the car, I had to remove all my outer garments before getting back in.
The next day I was simply walking in the dark from the carpark behind the Golden Key round to the front door to collect my fish and chips – as one does in the country on Fridays in lockdown. I simply didn’t see the pot-hole at the side of the tarmac in the shadow of a wall. My right foot, the same one as slipped yesterday, unerringly hit the edge of said hole, twisted my ankle and threw me forward with some force on to the hard ground. I was lucky my head, capless from the fall, came to rest inches from the wall, but the whole of my right side – knee, thigh, hip, ribs and shoulder – took quite a thwack. Prostrate, I carried out a quick check of my body parts to ascertain nothing was broken and turned to address the real danger of my situation: I was lying immovably in shadow and both my legs were sticking out into the road. If a car turned too quickly into the pub carpark, I would be run over; and a car was bound to come. Unlike the previous day’s fall, when the danger was in NOT being found, this time I knew I would be found but this could be somewhat unhelpful from my point of view if I was a corpse.
After a few minutes a car did come. Fortunately it was not going too fast and was able to stop as the driver picked up my wildly-waving legs in his headlights. His passenger lowered the offside front window. ‘Are you alright?’ she asked, as if coming across a prostrate male waving his legs at the side of the road was a not uncommon occurrence (perhaps it is outside some pubs but surely not in Snape?).
‘No I am not’, I replied, politely but firmly and with considerable pre-corpse relief. I was levered to my feet. Thanks were exchanged. Seldom has a fish and chip supper tasted better; especially as it was indeed prelude to not going out today. And as a result I’ve not fallen over, not even once.