This reminded me that I tend to do this quite a lot. I injure myself in silly ways. I've been doing it for years and have actually got quite good at it, even if I do say so myself.
So how do you injure yourself with a bin liner, Ken? Eh?
It’s easy, really. You know how they come in rolls? Bin liners, the tough black ones. Well you unroll one and you persuade yourself that you've found the perforations between that first bin liner on the roll and the next one in. So you grip the roll, with one hard either side of this perceived-perforation, and you give it as big and as brutal a chuck as you can, to tear the first bag off, to put in your bin. Except it isn’t the perforation, is it? It’s all part of the same bag and you pull so hard that your fingernail gets pulled clean off cos it was snagged in the bin liner. Then you dance around and swear a bit until your lovely wife turns up and quietly enquires as to what you have done to yourself this time? You know the scenario. No, of course, you probably don’t.
The bin liner thing was mild, although you wouldn’t have known that from hearing the roars and shouts that came out of me when I did it. In the scheme of things, though, it was small. I’ve made a career out of giving myself silly, cartoon, injuries.
When I was younger, many of these injuries seemed to stem from trying to do things far too quickly. I’ve referred to it before somewhere in these posts but my trademark silly injury, back in the London years, was for me to close the car door on myself before I’d got myself fully into the seat. I was always rushing around in such a tizz, I used to jump into the driver’s seat and slam the door but I would do it so quickly that I wasn’t actually fully in the car, the result being that a leg or an ear or some other appendage would get nipped. It was sore and embarrassing and I have it on good authority that it looked incredible silly when viewed from the street.
Now, in later life, the silly injuries seem to come much more from lack of attention than from speed of action. I can’t seem to cook anymore without cauterising myself. This usually relates to the extremely high moisture-content of whatever tea towel I selected to extract the pan/branding-iron from the oven. If it’s not that, it’s the special pot we paid a lot of money for, the one where the handle is exactly as hot as the hottest part of the bottom of the pot.
But leave all that aside. There’s a zenith. A ‘Daddy of All Stupid Injuries’, an undisputed champion, and, in my life, I have done it twice. Not once. Twice. That’s how good I am. You’ve seen it in cartoons and probably on old ‘Three Stooges’ shorts. You’ve thought it was quite funny. I am here to tell you that it isn’t. It isn’t funny at all.
It is of course ‘Stepping On a Rake’.
‘Ack’, you say, ‘Ack. Stepping on a rake must be embarrassing and even a little bit sore but it’s hardly the worst thing ever, is it? It is, though, take it from me, stepping on a rake is the worst thing ever and I should know – I’ve done it bloody twice.
Think about it. Think.
The key to the true horror of stepping on a rake is that you do not know you have stepped on a rake. If you had seen the rake lying there on the lawn, prongs skyward, you wouldn't have stepped on it. You would have sashayed to one side, pointed knowingly and grinned in the window at your long-suffering wife (who is still cleaning up the mess from that dinner you burned). No. The awful thing is, like that shot that will kill you, you never see it coming. One minute you are out walking your land, like your man with the Golden Retriever from Downton Abbey, the next you have been smashed as hard as you can be smashed, right on your nose.
What was it? What hit you? There was no assailant, there was nothing. As you crumple to the floor you imagine some H G Wellsian invisible fugitive or perhaps a team of super-skilled Ninja warriors intent on stealing your garden implements. Wait. Garden? It was that stupid rake again, wasn't it? Oh God, no. Now the embarrassment sets in, the feeling of stupidity. “You've stepped on the rake again, you twat.”
All of this is so terrible; the unexpected nature of the assault, the burgeoning shame. But it’s the third part that’s the worst.
It hurts like hell.
That, right there, is the worst part.