I am sure that anyone that knows me (a large percentage of my readership at this point) will not be surprised by this admission. I am clumsy. I am at times an ungraced, awkward, Clouseau-esque hulk capable of bringing chaos and hullabaloo to even the most calm and serene areas of tranquillity with barely credible acts of spurious misfortune resulting in flailing arms, alarmed squeals, splintered furniture and occasionally, infernos. I was once almost sofa-bedded to death as the bastard thing unfolded whilst I was manoeuvring it through my new front door, leaving me pinned to the doorframe, using my last reserves of strength and oxygen to perform a one-man show with dialogue made up almost exclusively of invented and angry swear words,– ‘FOR THE BILGING LOVE OF KUNK, WILL SOMEONE GET THIS FRUKING THING OF ME!’. I once escaped severe burns when the duvet in which I was drunkenly wrapped caught fire and burned to a single crispy layer of cotton/nylon mix. I was saved from a similarly charred fate (presumably)by an extinguishing layer of sweat that can only be produced in a booze addled sleep. When you are on fire. A leaking and broken-flinted lighter I was once playing with decided to spark suddenly and did manage to engulf (although thankfully (?) only) my hand There quickly followed a high pitched squeal and a panicked dash to a fortuitously open window; thankfully the fire followed the lighter and left my hand, leaving me with nothing but a slightly toasted and subsequently fairly tender thumb-nail. I have scars from overly inattentive shaving; a lip that didn’t stop bleeding until minutes before the interview I was shaving for the previous night before. As a head shaver (a lack of durable head follicles has forced (lacking the necessary funds for a Wayne Rooney hair stitch or a Donald Trump, erm, whatever the fuck Donald Trump has got on his head (orange hair gas? Interchangeable cadaver scalp?), I can’t explain it anymore than he can. He’s got stupid hair, TeeHeeHee! HaHaHa! But seriously; DON’T VOTE FOR HIM. He’s a billtious kunk) me into a decision between comb-over and bald, I chose bald) I can tell you from personal experience that sloppy head-razor endeavours will result in a crimson mask of blood and splattered gore on your bathroom tile like Leatherface has come round for a friendly game of paper/rock/chainsaw-to-the-face. I have also managed to impale myself three times;
- My brother once laid out a tennis court in our back garden with bits of used wood from our Dad’s shed’s roof. I then walked the perimeter pretending to be a tight-rope walker (an ultimately unlikely career choice, for reasons listed above and below), and an unseen nail secured a long thin strip of splintered wood to my foot like a terrible and semi-permanent ski.
- At an evening’s camp, I was breaking wood over my knee for the fire, and another unseen nail was driven into the soft flesh above my patella, making my leg look like a sacrilegious parody of a crucifix. A hospital trip resulted, when, after removal, the rusting nail’s bacterial lodgers prevented my knee from bending the next morning.
- Whilst bar, my usual method of dealing with broken glasses was to stand on them to prevent large pieces stabbing someone and then sweeping them under the glass shelves for later retrieval and disposal (you can already guess how this is going to end). One busy night (whilst trying to impress a pretty barmaid) I casually stomped on one particular broken straight half pint glass. It didn’t yield, but a shard of it did travel through my trainer and sock and entered into the flesh of my foot, refusing to leave. I had to pull off my trainer and sock with the jutting glass connecting them like a hellish cocktail stick (causing further damage to my foot), when the majority snapped off, leaving a chunk of glass sticking out of my foot. I had to limp bloodily upstairs, avoiding putting any pressure on my newly glaziered foot, where my hero boss had to pull the glass out with pliers. My own, personal hero moment of this episode; despite having half a half pint glass stuck my foot, I managed to still serve my customer with his lemonade, hopping on one foot (and hoping like hell to avoid a similar situation with my other foot; it is very hard to hop on both feet, whilst avoiding putting weight on either). The pretty barmaid? She now has a very handsome son with a very handsome fellow who, as far as I know, didn’t secure her affection with casual stupidity, infant-esque wailing and drippy-blood-limping.
This lack of physical grace also bleeds into a lack of social grace too. I kind of don’t get what my mouth is saying until later analysis demonstrates an occasional lapse in forethought. Occasional like helicopter blades ‘occasionally’ rotate during flight. A cheery ‘have fun’ has long been a regular departure phrase of mine for people leaving my particularly enjoyable company. This is not, however, an appropriate phrase to use to say goodbye to in-laws departing to organise their recently departed mother’s funeral. This wasn’t cruelty, or a dark sense of humour, just a complete inability to recognise the context and match it to appropriate words, and just deciding to use just any old familiar sayings or phrases rolling around in my inattentive but amiable head. I once read that Frank Sinatra used the phrase ‘Cent anni! Centi anni!’ to finish his concerts and conversations. Meaning ‘may you all live to be a hundred’, he would embellish this with “…and may the last voice you hear be mine!”. I thought this was pretty cool so I started using it. After a series of reactions ranging from slight confusion to downright fear I realised that for anyone older than me, this phrase indicated that I would become their grim reaper, a terrible angel of death, swooping down on them in their extreme dotage, my voice being their final experience of the world as they painfully gasped their last breath. For anyone younger than me, it would mean something similar, only now I was an exponentially aged killer, my murderous schemes becoming ever more elaborate as the people I spoke to got younger and younger. There I was, in their imagination, an enfeebled methuselah, creaking around in my wheelchair and wheezing iron lung, ready to bump off anyone that hit a triple digit birthday.. None of this occurred to me; I had visions of ring-a-ding-ding suits with fedoras and Nelson Riddle arrangements and scotch-on-the-rocks cool in my speech patterns. I got geriatric killing sprees. I have now stopped using the phrase.
All this is entirely my own fault. I get it. I really do. If I were to just slow down my actions and thought and invested more care into my manoeuvring, I might well become James Bond like in suavity and repose, all arched eyebrows and Roger Moore safari suits. But its not going to happen. I accept that. I have become at ease with my lack of natural physical grace. I have settled into a life of occasional ponderous ineptitude, and accepted the trail of broken torn and battered chairs, tables, sinks (I was trying to inspect a large spot on my bum in the bathroom mirror, and leant too heavily on the sink in front of it and pulled the (probably shoddily installed) sink off the wall), toys, skin, glasses, underwear, coat hooks, pub garden sheds (a birthday wrestle with my brother. See also tables) crockery, lampshades, mirrors (non-birthday wrestle with friend Louisa (she won), in which my brother’s head-body relationship was almost rendered redundant), entire hedges (an overly ambitious bonfire), lips, windows, sporting goods, trousers (oh, so many trousers), trees, and on one particularly spectacular occasion, my entire car bumper (there was an unhelpful intercom system, some errant reversing, a barely visible massive white iron pole, an evil little hook, much swearing, a well-intentioned but ill-timed child (his remark of ‘look mister, a massive bit just fell off your car’ was met with my uncharitable growling), and a nervous ‘well-we-should-be-grateful-its-just-the-bumper’ phone call, with a very understanding, but very-slightly-enormously-angry-wife indeed) I have left in my wake. It is all part of the wonder of me.