Is it only a cat that has nine lives? I drifted off today, while walking Dog and nearly stepped out in front of the traffic. Not that close but enough to wake me up with a jolt.
It made me think how many ‘lives’ I’ve used up. Am I feline at heart?
- I don’t remember this but I saw the afters – apparently when I was but a crawling and mewling babe, back in the days of 2 pin plugs, I managed to stick a butter knife between plug and wall. The Archaeologist recalls a blue flash followed and two small melt marks appeared in the metal blade. I was griping the bone handle which, fortunately didn’t conduct electricity. I have wondered since, if my older brother was there, watching, whether I was part of some early egregious experiment on his part? After all many such followed though mostly he inflicted pain and discomfort on himself and Dad.
- Still with two pin plugs, a few years later, in a dark room I went to push a plug into its socket and somehow managed to leave my thumb between the two pins as I inserted the same into the wall. I was blown back across the room, my hair frizzled and I remember tasting metal: otherwise no harm done. Other than the thrid ear that grew and was surgically removed at 12.
- I’m 12 and at scout camp. I decide to use the swimming pool and my rather aimless back-paddle takes me out of my depth whereupon I’m knocked off my stride by a proper swimmer. I don’t know how many times I went down and came up – more than 3 – before some nice man pulled me out. ‘You ok?’ I think I nodded at which point he jumped back in and left me to sort myself out. I’ve hated swimming pools ever since.
- I’m 13 and chasing the dog along a cliff path at Hordle Cliff in Hampshire and it gives way. I tumble down at a rate of knots, doing my three degrees of difficulty as I bounce on the chalk and end up in a shrub. I survive. I regret to say I never took much interest in the welfare of the shrub.
- Bristol University and I’m walking down Park Street – if you don’t know Bristol it is basically an urban mountain. Crossing a road, in a world of my own, an Austin Allegro sends me slip-sliding across the bonnet. I walked away. The driver waited for a tow. British Engineering in the 70s had fallen a long way since Brunel.
- My bicycle and countless tumbles: once I ploughed into the back of a parked bread van, its doors open. I ended up sandwiched in many senses; another time I tried to overtake a bus on the inside when the middle doors opened and a passenger leapt out. I think he was quite cheerful as he departed the bus but by the time he ended up on the floor, with his testicles hanging from my handlebars he had lost that joie de vivre – here the accident itself wasn’t the life threatening part.
- I’m in Peru and waiting to catch the train from Puno to Cusco, across the alto plano. For reasons of crass stupidity I get off the train to take a picture. Without warning it starts to leave and I have to sprint after it and swing myself up on to the footplate oh so narrowly missing the thundering wheels.
There have probably been more, certainly moments of sheer panic as I realise I haven’t really thought through my actions. I’m better now and anyway, I still have two lives left….