Thursday 3 September 2009

On Falling

Change in the weather, as His Bobness has remarked, is known to be extreme... On Tuesday morning I stood at my station in warm sunlight watching a nectaring Painted Lady as it methodically quartered a spray of Buddleia. Yesterday morning I stood there under an umbrella in cool wind and spattering rain. And last night, walking home, umbrella up against sheeting rain and gusting wind, I somehow misjudged a kerb, stumbled and - uhoh here I go - fell full length on the hard wet pavement. 'Are you all right?' the lady in front inquired anxiously from under her umbrella. 'Oh yes, fine' I lied, leaping to my feet as if on springs, propelled by sheer embarrassment. Resuming the dignity of the vertical, I strode off manfully as if nothing had happened, only later discovering that I was bleeding from most knuckles, had barked one elbow and fetched one knee a painful whack which is giving me gyp even as I write...
Of course, the strange thing is not that we fall down once in a while but that we manage to remain vertical and bipedal so much of the time, strutting around as if it's the easiest thing in the world and gravity was finally overcome. In reality it's a difficult and thoroughly unnatural way to proceed, and gravity - as falling over reminds us - is an irresistibly potent force. Our upright gait has gifted us the pains of childbirth, the thousand and one things that can go wrong with our backs and leg joints, and the oversized brains that, combined with a lofty viewpoint above the earth, has given us ideas above our station and caused no end of mischief. It was all, surely, a terrible mistake...


  1. Trust that you're okay, Nige. Love the word 'barked'. I will now use it at every opportunity.

    The last time I fell over, strangers found me lying in a ditch of water, laughing like a crazy man. The time before that, I did my knee, jumped up, said I was fine, yet it took eight months for the knee to fix itself. Hope your recovery is much quicker.

  2. The humiliation is so much worse than any physical pain.

    It's ok for children to fall over, and a cause for great sympathy when the elderly do it, but any tumbles between the ages of 12 and 80 are mortifying.

  3. You can't pull the wool over our eyes Nige, we know you were out bare knuckle fighting again like this chap:

    Hope you heal up nicely anyway!

  4. . In reality it's a difficult and thoroughly unnatural way to proceed..

    Um.. it's not really that difficult, Nige. For most of us, anyway...

  5. if a Nige falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

  6. Six years ago, Labor Day, I walked off a too-high curb in NYC and my entire body weight landed on my ankle. As I sat there, my first thought was "Why hasn't this happened before?" I live in a four-floor walk-up, and gained great humility by having to ascend it backwards, on my tushie, until I learned how to use crutches.

  7. Ah, pride goeth before a fall. When i was a freshman in college, there was one very hot boy in a class of mine. I decided to dress up to impress this fellow and borrowed my roommate's high heels, which I put on with a dress. I felt most alluring and just as I was about to descend the steps to the corridor the class was on (in the basement of some old gothic nightmare of a building), one of the heels on the borrowed shoes broke off.

    I tumbled down the flight of stairs, landing at the bottom with one shoe on, my skirt practically over my head, but unbelievably no sprains or broken bones. I would rather, however, have been unconscious. Probably one of the most embarrassing moments of my life as people tried to help me up and all I wanted to do was be invisible. As it happened, I hobbled out of there, skipping the class, and I can't remember anything else about the boy, so maybe I just gave up on him too!