(Reblogged from 2014)
It was November, several years ago and the weather was pleasantly warm. We were walking around Southampton enjoying the late sunshine.
Our mood was reasonably high, having just had a ‘meet and greet’ with a publisher who was interested in Anita’s books. We had lunch in the open air and were trying to remember which car park we had used, several hours before.
My feet were killing me, wearing new shoes on such a day was a crazy idea, but I was grinning and bearing the pain like a trooper. We walked past an ancient looking wall that was faced with what looked like slices of flint, and I was rooting around in my bag for my camera.
I don’t really know what happened next, whether my foot slipped or I stumbled, but before I knew what was happening, I was flying through the air and landed on the ground. The pain hit me like a sledgehammer, as my hands, face, and knee took the full force of my considerable weight, grinding them into the rough surface of the walkway.
For several minutes I couldn’t move. The pain was excruciating and there was a distinct possibility that I might faint, as my head was swimming as Anita and her son rushed to help me. As I lay there in an inelegant heap, trying to pull myself together, I noticed my hands. There was some blood, but no apparent reason for it, (I found out later that it came from my face) my hands were studded with gravel and were screaming with the pain. As I stared at them, I was transported back to a time when this had happened before, sixty years ago.
I was nine or ten, and it was winter. The school playground was icy, with piles of dirty snow shovelled here and there. It was playtime and I was under the shelter that ran along the side wall, swinging on the iron bars. It was a game we played, linking our arms around the bars and lifting our feet off the ground. Like today, what happened next was fast and I hit the icy ground with my face and hands.
The school nurse took one look at my face, bloody and pitted with gravel and promptly sent me home to my mother. I remember the look on her face as she studied mine, the way she cried as she tried to remove the gravel as gently as she could. It wasn’t easy and it hurt a lot, but she kept at it until it was done.
I had looked at my hands that day, as I did now, wondering why fate had decided to repeat itself, today of all days.
Trust me to spoil what was a momentous occasion, a day that promised to be the start of something great…