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» School Days

Pseudo miracle
I used to be a right sporty git; rugby twice a week, for club and school, same with hockey. Cycling 5 miles to and from school for a couple of years. All this ended when I was diagnosed with Osgood Schlatter's disease. Far from being the wasting away terminal illness it sounds like, it's actually an affliction of the knees, when your tendons can't keep up with your bone growth. The result is pain from running or impacts, and the more it hurts, the more it's going to hurt. I spent the best part of 4 years unable to sit comfortably in a car, because I could never straighten my legs out to get comfortable.

I couldn't really do anything active at all at this point. No sport involving running or even walking, staying inside to read at lunchtimes instead of facing an hour on my feet, it was pretty horrendous. I'd had more than enough so the next time we visited the hospital we made sure they did something. So I came away from that visit with one of my legs completely in plaster, from ankle to hip. I had to stay in that for 3 months, and they would put a new one on the other leg. Sound like fun? It was, actually. I imagine few of you have actually spent much time in a wheelchair, and whilst being wheelchair-bound is definitely not a barrel of laughs, I don't think I've ever had more fun than in a wheelchair when you're essentially OK, you've just been ordered to walk as little as humanly possible. This made for great entertainment. Watching people's faces when I had an R.E lesson upstairs; wheeling to the stairs, looking pitifully up them, swinging my leg round and walking straight on up (slowly, admittedly).

I became extremely good at wheelchair wheelies, eventually - after many cases of going over backwards - able to hold them indefinitely and go wherever I wanted on 2 wheels; even down stairs. My friends would push me round school at full tilt, once causing one of the tyres to pop off the rim and me to brown my pants.

So - the miracle. About a month or 2 in, I was wheeling round with Richard, a good friend, who volunteers to wheel me along a path as fast as he can. We build up speed until he's running completely flat out. The path was set at an angle next to the English block, so as we ran along it we got progressively closer to the building. We reach the end of the path, Richard probably running at about 30mph now (more probably not) and he glances the very corner of the building. I say glances, the wheelchair stopped completely dead and I was catapulted out at a very high speed, travelling I would say, a good 15 feet before hitting the ground.

Now what would you expect to happen to me? Bear in mind the full leg cast. Nope, I didn't go arse over tit and end up in a bloody heap. I hurtled through the air, landed feet down and somehow held my balance, managing to half-run until I could stop. I looked at Richard, who was somewhere between terror, exhaustion and cracking ribs laughing. But it was the look that the two girls sitting on the bench closest that just set it off perfectly - the most offended I've ever seen someone look at me. To the untrained eye, I had just performed an absolutely perfect, sans-sandtrap, cripple long jump. With a Jesus-has-healed-mah-legs landing.

Apologies for length, it would have been a Paralympic World Record.
(Thu 29th Jan 2009, 15:56, More)

» Why I was late

Not an excuse per se
But last Monday, the 18th of June, I was a bit late to work. It was pretty bog standard, I'd overslept by 20 minutes and now I was going to be 7 minutes late, or thereabouts. Now my commute is about 25 miles, I work in the very centre of Bristol, so I commute by motorbike - a Yamaha Thundercat to be precise.

I was about 3 minutes from my work place and I realised I was going to be a bit late. I hate being late, I just don't like walking in and knowing I don't have a decent reason to be, I'm just lazy. I got a bit angry with myself as I thought this and I was at this moment filtering up to a pedestrian crossing. In a bit of a hurry and a bit angry to boot, I pulled away fairly fast from the lights when they turned green.

Mistake. Mr BMW was clearly also late and didn't indicate to turn across me. I hit his left headlight at an estimated 40mph, though my speedo is broken. According to a witness I did 3 midair flips, the last thing I saw of my bike was a massive cloud of steam as the radiator exploded, and then I settled in to my injury - compound fracture of the elbow in 22 places. Totally shattered.

So while I'm lying there and people start to come and look after me, a nice guy from a van I filtered past asks if he can call anyone. Most of my words are expletives at this point, as my elbow is shattered and dislocated, but I'm so full of adrenalin I stop moaning and say 'phone my boss, 0117 etc, tell him why I'm not there.' Then I burst out laughing. I had a good excuse for being late.

That's the relevant part over with-the unrelevant bit is the paramedics arrived, shot me up with morphine (useless), cut all my clothes off, relocated my arm on the road (most painful experience of my life), then I spent 7 hours in surgery, 12 pins, 9 plates. 5 days later I'm discharged. Still got to wear a cast for another 2 weeks.

If you've ever experienced the horror of Itchy Cast, click 'I like this'.
(Sat 30th Jun 2007, 17:04, More)

» School Trips

Once hiking across Dartmoor on a DofE trip, everyone had to make a sizeable jump across a ditch, probably about 1 1/2 metres. Once 10 or 12 people have jumped across, the landing strip becomes a bit slippery, given this was spring time on a marshland.

Which knobber went last? Me. So I make the jump, find a total lack of grip, and slip feet first into the ditch. This particular ditch was brim full with what can only be described as 'shit'. It had the smell and consistency of fresh cow dump. Now at the tender age of 14 I was already about 5'11", and when I fell into this bugger I went all the way up to my chest, probably about nipple height, and I couldn't feel the bottom. Understandably a bit panicked at the prospect of dying in a shitty grave, I started grabbing at the grass on the bank to try and pull myself up. While my friends stood their absolutely pissing themselves.

Eventually, and I mean at least 2 minutes of me begging them to get me out because this vile stuff was seeping into my hiking boots, 2 of them grab my arms and try to hoik me out, but they're having some trouble. I can feel something on my foot, pressure on the top of it every time they pull. I don't think too much about this given the situation, and tell them to stop being such pansies and get me the hell out.

So they pull again, and eventually I'm free and on the bank. And I find out what the pressure on my foot was. A decomposing sheep carcass had gotten hooked around my foot, basically I think it's jaw got locked into my foot. It was at a wondeful stage of decomposition, where the wool was still discernable at places, but it didn't really resemble a sheep any more.

No-one much fancied walking next to me that day, and I spent the rest of the hike walking with decomposing sheep sloshing round in my boots.

Got my DofE Bronze though. :)

Length? It's my first time, length is the least of my worries!
(Thu 14th Dec 2006, 16:34, More)

» Food sex

Believe I forgot about this for the majority of the week.

Having unusually spent 5 minutes poking around the missus with the ham cannon, I had ‘arrived’, peeled off the contraceptive, and disposed of. Missus may or may not have taken a soft fwap to the face with it.

Besides the point – I’d disposed of. There’s never anywhere decent to put a used jonnie is there? A coke can was used this time.

Later, missus has gone home, I’m having a nice lonesome smoke, and I feel a bit parched. Hmm, what’s this? Some coke, left in the can! Yayyy!

(Mon 10th Aug 2009, 16:58, More)

» PE Lessons

Sports day, primary school, about 15 years ago.
At a guess. That would put me at 6, an age suitable so as not to feel embarrassed about this story. Probably closer to 10.

Being that long ago, I have few recollections, but this bit sticks out in my memory like a jagged spear in my side, going septic.

The sack race. Perhaps the most highly regarded race of a primary schools’ sports day, it is infinitely more interesting than the 100m dash, just involving running, and a million miles better than the egg and spoon race, just involving walking (and eggs). The sack race combines stamina, agility, and the ability to hop in a sporting piece of inspiration.

I might be slightly over-playing it. Suffice to say I quite liked the sack race.

I was never the fastest runner or anything like that in my school. I had a bloody good eye and a strong arm so I would go on to hold throwing records at my schools for the next 10 years, and enjoyed cricket et al. But I wasn’t slight and sleek, I was a bit chubby and frankly just not that aerodynamic. So when I stepped up to the line, sweaty hands clenched around the lip of my sack as tight as I could muster, I wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence. I remember 2 competitors – Luke – a decent friend, but not a sporting hero. Frankly I even fancied MY chances against him. The other, Craig, I wasn’t quite so confident. He was a renowned runner, and excelled at most things sporting. He had taken home many a ‘1st place’ rosette while I stumbled back with a scraped knee and a ‘Great effort’ bow pinned to my polo shirt.

Still, despite my poor odds against such a specimen of athletic prowess, I was ready to go. The parents were loving the sack race, if possible, even more than me. I was charged and ready, and I looked down the line of chanting parents – my lane being closest to them – to see my mum and Luke’s mum cheering with everyone else, anticipating the whistle. I fixed my eyes on them and heard the blast. I was off, working my legs as hard as I could. The line of parents cheering right into my face was disconcerting at best, but once I had gained some speed, they blurred into insignificance as the finish line beckoned.

I chanced a look over my shoulder and saw them all – Luke was well out of the running, slowly jumping in his sack, making little to no progress, his little face gurning in concentration. Craig on the other hand, he was fucking close - but most importantly, still behind me. I returned my view to the front, and stepped it up a notch. Going as far as I could with each jump, not wasting any energy. I passed my mum, gave her a quick, nervous look as she screamed, and returned my eyes to the finish. It was a matter of meters now.

I could feel Craig baring down on me from behind, his springy legs and less than ample frame working to his advantage. I, on the other hand, was fucking knackered. I had pushed so hard, but I wasn’t about the lose this without a fight. I carried on my stupendous efforts, already hearing the chanting of my name as I was borne aloft and carried inside the school for squash and biscuits. Until I felt that horribly ungainly feeling – you know where you’re running like a bat out of hell, but your legs lose rhythm and can’t keep up with your speed any more? Imagine that, in a sack.

I just had no chance. My hands were gripped eternally to the sack, my legs were tangled amongst each other, and there was nothing else left but to let it happen. I felt, hard, onto the cracked earth. The distance left to the line was such that when I fell, my head was basically touching the line. Not quite there, but one more step and I would be through the tape. I looked up through dusty vision and saw Craig hopping over the line. I saw the disappointment etched on my mums’ face. I tried getting up, but it was useless. The sack was now physically attached to my legs. I flailed on the floor as everyone else passed through, Luke hopping over last. Until I got up, disentangled myself from the sack, and crossed over the line, holding back the tears. My one chance to show everyone, and Craig in particular, that I did have an ounce of athleticism. I was hurt, humiliated, and not only did I not get to be borne aloft into the school for juice, I didn’t even have a fucking Second Place rosette. I got my usual ‘Great Job!’ sticker, not even worthy of my scorn.

You might chose to think of this as an over-embellished attempt at humour. But honestly, that was one of the most heart-breaking days of my young life.
(Mon 23rd Nov 2009, 16:49, More)
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