Today is Friday the 13th, a day that superstitious people believe can be unlucky. I don’t give any credence to that kind of stuff, but it does feel like an appropriate day to tell you about some of the embarrassing injuries and incidents that have befallen me during my life so far.
I don’t mean common little things like trips or bumps, I regularly do that. Especially when it’s dark, when I’m much more likely to stumble off pavements or trip up walls anyway. And occasionally I’ve got myself a bit lost by going down the wrong street or said hello to the wrong person or nearly walked into a ladies loo, etc. I’ve done all of those things numerous times over the years.
Here I’m talking about more unusual and memorable episodes that have stuck in my mind. Not all of these stories are about hurting myself, but a few of them are. So I hope you find this entertaining and amusing. There’s also a video version of this post as well.
The first one I’ll tell you about was when I went to a friend’s retirement do. He’d been working at our company for a long time, and we’d all gone out to a restaurant for a nice meal and a couple of drinks. To be clear at this point, it wasn’t because of the drinks that the incident in question happened. Even if I hadn’t had a couple of pints, I would still have had this happen to me. My judgement was still very much there, it was my sight that caused it.
So we’d finished our meal and gone our separate ways, and I was walking home. And it’s in what was then my home town, so I knew the area, I knew which way I was going. However, I wasn’t particularly familiar with this route, because I rarely have to use it. I’ve only been to this restaurant very occasionally, if I happen to be meeting someone or for a special occasion like this. And even then it’s often been during lighter hours of the day. Otherwise, the only times I’ve gone this way are when sitting in a taxi on my way home from work, as it’s a route some of the taxi drivers liked to use.
So I was walking along in the dark, and the lighting wasn’t particularly great. But it was enough for me to see a bus stop in front of me, which I knew I had to get round somehow.
Now, 99% of the time – or so it seemed to me at least where I used to live – the bus stops where I used to live are generally at the edge of the pavement, so the bus can pull right up to the kerb and people can hop on. I assumed that this bus stop was no different and, not wanting to stumble off the pavement into the road, I decided to walk on the pavement round and behind it.
Only, there was no pavement behind it. Unbeknownst to me in the dark, the bus stop shelter was actually away from the pavement edge, by a low, jagged, stony wall. And I have a tendency to walk fairly quickly. So when I went to walk behind the bus stop, my lower legs hit this wall, and I tumbled forward over it!
I didn’t completely topple over it. Rather, I ended up bent forwards over the wall, with my hands on the ground on the other side, while my feet were still on the pavement. If anybody had seen me at this point, I would have looked quite amusing I’m sure! But there was nobody around, so nobody came over to help.
My leg that had hit the wall was in quite a bit of pain, and I could tell it was bleeding too. But I was able to stand up and hobble home, where I had a proper look at it. It was quite a long and deep cut really. I’d also cut one of my hands a bit from the stony ground on the other side of the wall. But I didn’t call an ambulance or go to a doctor. I just bandaged and plastered myself up and let it heal.
It took a couple of weeks to heal up, but I managed to go into work with it under my trousers. I didn’t tell anyone it had happened, so if anyone noticed me walking funny, they never said anything! The pain went away within a few days, and then the cut in my leg just gradually got better. So I was fine in the end. I just felt sore and stupid for a few days after I’d done it!
The Pool Table
I seem to be unlucky with that leg really, as I’d also injured it a couple of times before at school. The most notable incident was when I was playing a game of pool with a friend in the common room of our boarding house.
As I was walking round the pool table, I suddenly heard this ripping sound. And I looked down to see that the leg of my shorts had been ripped open. My leg hadn’t been touched, but the leg of my shorts had been. We then discovered that there was a screw sticking out from the edge of the pool table, from the metal or plastic edging that holds everything in place, so that’s what I’d caught my shorts on.
So now I had to go back to my room to get changed. But when I turned round to walk out of the common room, I was closer to the table than I thought I was. My distance perception is bad, and I perhaps thought that the screw wasn’t sticking out as far as it was.
So I ended up catching the other leg of my shorts on the screw as well! But not only that, this time I’d caught my leg too. So my leg started bleeding, and I started crying in pain (as I was still quite young at the time). Luckily, as we were a special school for the visually impaired with all key facilities on site, we had a surgery just up the path from the boarding house. So I was taken there by one of the staff, and I got bandaged up. And again, it didn’t take long to heal up, but it was something I felt very silly about!
There was also an incident when we were out on a school trip one year, and were playing on a big wooden obstacle course. There’s not much to say about this, but I basically jumped off an obstacle, completely misjudging the distance and the landing, and ended up spraining my ankle. So I was hobbled away, taken to hospital and ended up on crutches for a little while. So that was really painful. And, like the two injuries above, this also happened to my right leg!
This incident isn’t about me hurting myself, though it did carry the fear of me doing so, and again it’s from my time at school when I was fairly young.
We were staying on a big boat moored in a bay area, and from there we would go out on little boats, to explore the area and go out almost to sea. And I didn’t really enjoy any of this trip, I was quite scared of it all at the time. I wouldn’t be quite so bad now, but at that age it was the first time I’d ever done anything like that, and I just didn’t like this particular school trip.
So one of the things they offered for us to do was to jump off the end of the big boat that we were staying on. Whether they’d let you do that now for health and safety, I don’t know, but at the time they were very happy for us to do it.
And, for reasons I’ll never quite fathom, I was persuaded to go up and have a look. So, like everyone else, I had to put a wetsuit on and then go up to the top deck and look over. And I immediately wished I hadn’t. As soon as I realised how big the drop was – or, to be precise, how big I perceived the drop to be – I panicked and really didn’t want to do it.
However, because quite a few other people had already done it by that point, I was completely outvoted, with assurances from everybody that it would be absolutely fine. So I ended up climbing over the rail and standing on the tiny ledge on the other side of it, holding the rail behind me as tightly as I could. I was absolutely terrified, and kept shouting “I’m not confident!” over and over again, desperately wanting to get back on to the boat!
In the end, the only way they could persuade me to do it was by holding hands with a girl from my class. So she climbed over next to me, we held hands and jumped off together. And it was fine, but I had no desire to do it again! A few people have embellished the story by saying I asked the girl out at the bottom, but I would have been too caught up in the terror of the moment to even remotely consider anything like that, so that aspect never happened. But it was certainly something I got teased about for a while afterwards!
Moving away from school, and to a couple of hotel-based stories, the first being when I stayed in a Premier Inn once, a long time ago.
I had been given directions to find the stairs and lifts to my floor. But in the corridor I was walking down, all the doors looked the same. So I mistook the door I should have gone through for another bedroom door, and walked straight past it. However, I found another door at the end of the corridor, and saw flights of stairs on the other side through the window. So I figured it must be it, even though it was further than I thought they had said.
So I went through the door and up the stairs – only to find that I couldn’t get out of the door from the stairs! I couldn’t find anywhere to scan a keycard or anything like that. So I went back down to the ground floor and couldn’t get out of that door either! So that panicked me a little bit, feeling that I was stuck in this stairwell with nobody else about!
Thankfully, I looked through the door on the ground floor and saw a member of staff, possibly a cleaner, and knocked on the door for them to let me out. Which they did, and they showed me where I should have gone. I seem to recall that I’d actually been in the stairwell reserved as a fire escape, so it was basically exit only, which would have explained a lot. This was a long time ago, and I haven’t had any experiences like that in a Premier Inn since, but I still remember it happening.
Another hotel story I have is more drink-related than sight-related, but it’s a fun story I thought I’d relate anyway.
I’d been to a conference with some of my colleagues for the industry that we work in, as it was our turn to host it down in area of the country. And there had been a lot of free drink that day – a champagne reception to start with, followed by a pint of cider my manager bought me at the bar, then plenty of wine with the dinner, and finally drinks vouchers for getting free booze after the dinner. So we were all a little bit merry by the time we had to leave.
On our way out, me and a couple of the ladies from work got into the lift. And we couldn’t figure out which button we need to push, because they were letters rather than numbers. So we didn’t know if G was for Ground floor, or R was reception, or whatever. So we were going up and down in the lift, looking out of the door to see if we recognised whether we were on the right floor or not. We couldn’t figure it out, and we were in fits of giggles.
Thankfully someone else got into the lift and was able to show us the right way out, so we were fine. But we just found it hilarious, and we still look back on it fondly – I think in large part because it’s the most merry my workmates have ever seen me, before or since. And that’s because I don’t drink a lot unless it’s a special occasion and I’m with people I know and trust. So on this night I was with colleagues I got on well with, and I knew I would be getting a taxi home from the local taxi company that I knew well and trusted. Likewise, there’s only been one occasion where I’ve been more drunk than that, and that’s when I was staying with a friend at his house. Otherwise, I don’t usually drink a lot.
The Cocktail Bar
This final story brings things up to date, as it’s the most embarrassing incident I’ve had so far in London since I moved here last Christmas.
I was going to an event with the social group Thinking Bob – a Cocktails And Cryptic Crosswords night. And that’s exactly as it sounds – a group of us went to a cocktail bar, and we were shown how to do cryptic crosswords. We were walked through the process of thinking about it in order to solve the clues, and it was really interesting, more so than you might expect. Every writer’s style is different, but there are general rules that you can tend to follow, so it gave us plenty of food for thought. And drink of course – but, again, this incident was due to the one or two cocktails I’d had before it happened. It would still have happened regardless of that.
The bar has a central pathway down the centre. It curves round to the right slightly where the bar sticks out, and then carries on straight past the bar to the rest of the venue. And to the left and right of this path are the tables and chairs. So, as you come in, we were sat on a couple of tables on the right. Some people were sat on a bench set against the wall, while others were sitting on chairs on the opposite side of the table facing them, with their backs to the central aisle.
These seating areas, however, are up on a ledge, so you have to go up quite a tall step to get to your seat. That was fine, I managed that. And I was sitting on one of the chairs with my back to the step, but that was fine too. I didn’t fall backwards off the step, there was enough room to push my chair back safely.
However, by the time I had got up to go and find the toilet later in the evening, I had forgotten the step was there. I pushed my chair back and stood up without any problems, and turned left to go around the back of the person next to me. But then, as I walked, my right foot landed on the step… but my left foot hit nothing, as it was off the step and thus in mid-air! So, while I was pushing forward with my right foot, my left foot couldn’t do anything – and consequently I fell forward, topping awkwardly off the step, and putting my hands out to break my fall and stop me smacking my face on the floor!
So, yes, I feel over in the middle of a busy bar in London, which must have made me look like quite the drunk! Plus, this was the first time I’d met the head of Thinking Bob, Rebecca, at one of their events, so if I was ever going to make an idiot of myself, that would of course be the time! Everyone was really nice though and made sure I was alright. I was a bit bruised for a few days afterwards, but there was nothing broken, which is lucky considering it was a hard floor!
So those are the embarrassing stories that come to mind – there are likely to be more, but those are the most prominent in my memory. They’re embarrassing (and sometimes painful!) when they happen, but after the event is easy to look back and laugh at them. I’m sure there will be plenty more stories to tell in the years to come too. Feel free to share any of your own in the comments as well if you wish to.
So I hope you found them amusing and entertaining, and I’ll see you for another post soon, as I’ve got plenty of bits and pieces to update you on!