It’s up there with the most horrible feelings I have had the misfortune to experience. More horrible than the car crashes I’ve been in (three to date, and no, I wasn’t the driver in any of them), and almost more horrible than the frozen shoulder pain, which was excruciating and made me scream out loud every time I forgot about it and tried to lift my hand above hip height. Go on, try and keep one hand down by your side for an hour, yet continue to go about your life normally. Not possible.
The thing I’m trying to describe, admittedly somewhat clumsily, is the bite that I took out of the pavement just over a week ago. I don’t remember clearly tripping or falling (although one look at the state of the pavement and you can see exactly why it happened). I do however remember with painful clarity the slow motion crunching and snapping as my teeth connected with the concrete.
I’m not particularly vain – like most of us, I didn’t appreciate the inherent beauty of youth when I had it. Now that it has flown I’ve kind of settled into my looks. I’m comfortable with them – or I was until last week – and I complete the daily rituals at Aphrodite’s altar (my dressing table) as a matter of habit as much as anything else. But there’s nothing quite like a smack in the face from a lump of concrete to make you realise that for years you have failed to acknowledge your good fortune in being even passably attractive. The pain of course is the worst thing, but it is compounded by the sudden realisation that you do not look like yourself. A black eye, cuts and grazes, bruised forehead, and those broken teeth. I looked like the victim of a far worse accident than the one I had suffered. At the time I also feared that I had broken my arm (it’s still painful, not broken but ligament damage) and I had very badly bruised my knee – if you can call the area from four inches above your knee to five inches below it, all knee.
The shock was a factor I haven’t had to consider before either. The rubberiness that we have before middle age disappears quite swiftly once you hit 50 – take my word for it. When you fall, you really do fall. No time to catch yourself, no time to think – just CRUNCH – or SPLAT – depending on what you land on. Shock makes you shake and fail to form proper sentences. I’m so grateful to the lovely ladies (both considerably older than me) who helped me up and called the friend I was on my way to meet, and gathered together the contents of my enormous handbag, which had spread themselves over a wide area as soon as they were given the opportunity to escape. Also to my fabulous friend Paula, who appeared like a genie, dragged me into a bar and held ice over my eyes thereby heading off a lot of the more visible damage. She also arranged for her lovely husband to come and drive me to the hospital for x-rays and other exciting procedures. And for my lovely partner to come and keep an eye on me.
The moral of the story is: be grateful for good friends. We are so very lucky with ours. Also, wear sensible shoes and keep an eye on wonky pavements.