falling’s not the problem
When I’m falling I’m in peace
It’s only when I hit the ground
It causes all the grief”  (Florence Welch, Florence and the Machine)

I can vouch for this. Just over two months ago, I managed to trip and fall down a whole flight of stairs, jangling my vertebrae like a xylophone on each step, and smashing my head on stone flags at the bottom, splitting the back of my skull like a watermelon.

Now – just over two months later – the head wound is healing well, my neck no longer feels like it’s being crunched by a swinging lead weight and, although my back is still causing me grief, I’m off the painkillers. Remarkably, I wasn’t concussed and there was no actual fracturing of bone, just gaping skin, large bruises, grazing and much blood. Lucky me, indeed. I still shudder when I think about what might have been. Anything from paralysis to death.

It’s in these split (sorry ) seconds that you realise how tenuous life and/or life as you know it actually is. I run and walk up and down stairs all the time but, on this occasion, fate intervened to remind me not to be so careless, to concentrate a little more on the humdrum minutiae of my days. So, of course, I do. No I don’t. I’m extremely wary now, read scared stiff, of stairs, and negotiate them as if they were out to deliberately trip me up and try to kill me. But other things, just boiled kettles, uneven surfaces, hot fat, driving, walking on ice, gardening – all the other could-be dangerous events involved in everyday living, I just get on with, only occasionally allowing a passing whisper of hazard to interrupt my busy existence. That little red light which reminds you to be careful, slow down or handle with care only seems to be properly activated after an accident or near death experience once you become an adult.

I watch over my toddler granddaughters like a hawk. Mind the stairs, come down on your bottom. Don’t touch that, it’s hot. Stay on the pavement. Hold my hand. Don’t run, don’t rush, don’t hurry. Be careful.  I’m the red light in their lives, always aware of perceived threats, sounding the alarm at the slightest intimation of even the mildest peril, like an irritatingly loud car-parking beeper or the warning on a bag of peanuts – may contain nuts. As the babies get older, more knowledgeable and able to navigate life, my hazard warning antennae go into snooze mode. I no longer squawk at the eight year old to watch the stairs etc. – his contempt at my babying him would be palpable.  But I’m wondering whether, as we enter our grey years, we don’t also revert back to some form of toddler-hood, where we need that constant, annoying warning whisper to become a klaxon again. Otherwise, we simply cock a deaf ‘un until push comes to shove and a trip takes you to A&E.

My friend, who also fell down a full flight of stairs round about the same time that I did, was commiserating with me recently at a 70th birthday party we both attended – she wearing two unwieldy pots and me, covered in contusions and unable to move without groaning in agony. Is fate trying to tell us that it’s time to move into bungalow? We both winced. Stairlift, anyone?

Thankfully, there is absolutely no risk to life and limb with 4Word pamphlets. They are the perfect salve after a hard, bruising day in the office of life. All our beautiful pamphlets are available from the poets themselves or via https://www.4word.org/titles/  Do enjoy – and remember, always come down the stairs on your bottom!    

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