Once, when I was a young lad, I was kneeling on my skateboard, plummeting down the hill outside our house. God alone knows what speed I’d reached—maybe as fast as 5 or 6 miles an hour—but I certainly felt the G-forces as I swerved violently to avoid something (probably a white dog turd) and neither boy nor machine could handle it— the skateboard rolled over, I was flipped off and slid on one knee for several painful inches on the gravel in the gutter in the street.
A cry of “Ouch!”, then one of “Mum!” then a lot of sobbing filled that little street in SE London. A hole the size of a jaffa cake had appeared in my knee and a torrent of claret was making it’s way out if it, down my leg and into my sock. No stitches were deemed necessary by my parents, so a lint pad, savlon, a crepe bandage and a safety pin were administered. Job done. The scar of the hole is still there, 36 years later.
When I was 15 I was playing rugby at school and was involved in a rather violent tackle. I fell heavily onto the ground and felt something crack under my rugby shirt. “Ouch”, I exclaimed. I lay where I fell for several moments before the sports master arrived to examine the damage. After a bit of prodding and squeezing I was deemed fit to continue the match. A tad surprised by this diagnosis, I spent the next several minutes running around the field trying to catch and tackle with my left arm, while my right hung limply down by my side. The master relented and called me off the pitch. Turned out I’d broken my collar bone. Bloody painful as it was, it got me off that year’s internal exams as I made a decent case that I couldn’t write with my left hand—my right being attached to my arm which was in a sling.
Over the years of playing rugby and cricket (while rarely training or keeping fit enough to play these properly) I’ve dislocated my right shoulder, popped a few rib cartilages, broken fingers on both hands, sprained both wrists, and developed shin-splints, tendonitis, back spasms, and jock-rot. I’ve had stitches over eyes, and strapping on legs, I’ve lost the ability to throw a ball because my shoulder is so weak now, and I regularly get cramp in the ribs as a result of the aforementioned popping.
So it was with a misguided sense of confidence that I took to the cricket field yesterday to ply my trade as an ever-slowing fast bowler. It was a friendly affair and no-one was expecting to break sweat. All went well for the first few overs. I took it gently, mincing up to the wicket and tossing the ball in the general direction of the batsmen. Not much happened— they didn’t score many runs, but I didn’t take any wickets either. All very gentle. So I decided to up the pace.
I was warmed up by now (though of course I hadn’t done anything so stupid and stretch-off). I went to the end of my run-up. Turned and charged (ish) towards the batsman. Two strides before I was to deliver the killer of all out-swingers I felt a sharp pain shoot up the back of my left leg. PING! I’d either been shot in the leg by a sniper hiding somewhere in the outfield, or I’d damaged a hamstring. “Ouch!” is close to what I cried. “Oh BOLLOCKS!!!” is closer.
I hobbled off to lick my wounds (which, as my wound was just below my arse, is a good trick if you can do it) and limped around the field until the end of the match. Sod it. I was annoyed at myself and depressed at my lack of fitness. Dunno why—I’ve never been fit. But something goes through your head when you play sport that makes you believe you can do all the things you could do 20 years ago. Perhaps if I substituted pints for practise I might have had half a chance. But what fun would that be?
So I’ve two weeks to heal my aching limbs before I’m asked to play again. No doctor will be called. No masseur will be summoned. I’m very much into the self-healing way of life (not to mention self-harming). I’m laid-up on the sofa beside a cup of tea and a packet of nurofen. Every-so-often I apply a packet of Sainsburys frozen peas to the troublesome area of my body, once in a while I’m forced to negotiate the lavatory (not a story fit for Sunday morning breakfast reading).
So that’s my Sunday buggered. No barbeques, no gardening, no wandering around the village enjoying the sunshine. Just the sofa and the Sunday Times. And the sodding British Grand Prix is the only thing on telly.