It’s a truth universally acknowledged that if I’m going to go and see something involving incredibly graceful Disney princesses I will fall arse over tit beforehand. It happened when my sister and I went to see Disney On Ice on a very icy day, and there’s a very real risk that she might never stop laughing about it. Today it happened when I was due to meet her so we could see Beauty and The Beast like the adults that we are.
I sometimes don’t pick my feet up when I walk. When I was a child being told off for half-sliding round the supermarket I really didn’t think my fun way of moving was going to have such far-reaching consequences. In fact, I’m pretty sure I thought I’d invented something. But here I am now, walking like a weirdo.
As I got to one of those wide, platform steps on the staircase at Tottenham Court Road (you know, the ones that serve no logical purpose except to confuse people who would otherwise be in their stride) I clipped the top of a step with my toe and stumbled. Instead of going with it like a normal person, I tried to fight the inevitable. I flailed and staggered up the last couple of normal steps, and then the entire depth of the stupidly-wide one, and then up a couple of others, before coming crashing down against the wall, hitting both knees squarely on the pointy part of a stair. All told, it took about seventeen hours. I was wearing my loudest shoes.
My first thought was how I was going to explain my plaster cast to the people at my new job on my first day. My second thought was that I hoped people didn’t think I was drunk at not-even-lunchtime on a Sunday. My third thought was that it was a miracle I’d managed to keep my coffee cup upright. Perhaps if I’d been willing to sacrifice the Caffe Nero to the gods of gravity early on things might have ended differently.
A very nice man, who I think had been trying to catch me mid-fall for the entire time I’d been dramatically-but-slowly flailing my way to the floor, took my elbow and tried to help me up. It wasn’t really working for either of us because apparently I keep some of my brain in my knees and I’d lost all sense of which way was up. I imagine to the indifferent passers-by (I have genuinely never been more grateful for London and how little we care about people who get in our way at tube stations) the whole thing would have looked similar to Bambi learning to walk.
“At least let me take your coffee” He said, reaching for the cup.
That was the moment he realised the cup I’d fought so hard to keep upright had nothing in it.
“Oh.” He gave me a weird look.
He gave my arm another cursory tug, and this time I kept up my end of the deal by at least trying to stand up. He continued on his way, half heartedly muttering something about how “it happens to us all”. I hobbled, winded and wounded, the rest of the way out. I wondered whether to report my mishap, but thought better of it because I’m in entirely too many tube station accident books at this point.
Rational person that I am, I spent the afternoon wondering exactly how many pieces my left kneecap was in post-fall, and how that would impact both my new job, and my membership of the local stand-up paddleboard club in Falmouth.
“Can I paddleboard with a broken knee?” is now a genuine addition to my Google history. And the answer is “no, Nicola. You cannot paddleboard with a broken knee on account of the fact that you don’t yet know how to paddleboard without one.”
Since I managed to handle the journey home I’ve come to the conclusion that my knee is not, in fact, broken. There’s a rapidly-developing bruise situation all over my body, which is much more dramatic even than the bruising of my ego, but that just makes me look cool so it’s fine. There’s just a slight risk that the people of Falmouth will think I’m in some kind of witness protection programme, but I will cross that risk (by going along with it so that people are too intimidated to be anything other than super-friendly with me) when I come to it.