'Falling down the stairs is latest entry in my catalogue of calamity'

Business man falling down the stairs

A recreation of Nick falling down the stairs posed by this obliging model - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

They say pride comes before a fall and in that case, I felt plenty of pride watching Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday afternoon.

Because two hours after he'd been sworn in with the presidential oath, I was swearing like a residential oaf after falling down the old apples and pears and landing squarely on my Donald Trump.

I don't know how many times I've told my children to be careful when going down the stairs and ordering them to hold on to the bannister, but here was their dad descending those same stairs carrying a laptop, mouse, computer speakers, pair of glasses, notepad and a book. It was like a challenge from Crackerjack.

I estimated I've undertaken that journey more than 30,000 times and every single one has been perfectly executed.

Apart from on Wednesday. 


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I slipped, but having my hands full, couldn't reach out and grab anything. My back and  backside clattered against the stairs as I ended up in the hallway. My first thoughts were with the laptop, which is recovering well.

It was one of those injuries that are the worst ones to handle. Not life-threatening or indeed serious enough to get medical help and nothing that you can really do to fix it. A bit like hitting your thumb with a hammer or stubbing your toe on a bit of furniture.

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I recalled an interview with film director Quentin Tarantino years ago when he was asked about how he depicts violence on screen.

He said that violence in films had, by the 1990s, become so run-of-the-mill and predictable that the way he did it was to put every day objects at the centre of violent scenes.

He quoted the example of Patricia Arquette sticking a corkscrew in someone's foot in 1993's True Romance as something the audience could probably relate to more than someone being shot as we've all experienced low level injuries like that.

And it's true. Well maybe not a corkscrew in the foot, but we can probably all relate to being poleaxed with a painful paper cut or laid low with a limp leg over being flattened by a Hollywood-style smack in the chops from Arnie or Sylvester.

As someone who has been  a relatively low burden on the NHS over the last four decades, aside from occasional chats with the asthma nurse, I started thinking about how many times I've been injured and had to deal with the minimum of medical care.

This week's stairs incident is certainly a contender to dislodge one of this quintet from my catalogue of calamity.

Falling while running
This happened on Norwich's Kett's Hill in 2018. If you know it, it's a steep hill. Running up is tough for the incline, running down is also a tad tricky for the decline.

I left my house at 6am at the start of a run and within five minutes was sitting on sofa with bloody cuts on both knees and both hands. I didn't know which cut to deal with first so drove to my parents' house and got my mum to fix me up.

Stepping on a hedgehog
Another running injury from just over a year ago. Five days before a marathon I stepped out for a gentle run early on a dark, wet morning.

Ten minutes in I trod on something that I'm sure was a hedgehog and rolled my ankle. I limped home and was met by a chorus of laugh and jokes about running spikes. I went back in daylight and thankfully whatever it was had gone.

Falling down the stairs the first time
I have previous. At university in the mid-90s I missed the last stair and ended up on the floor with a hurt ankle.

Thinking I could 'walk it off' I put my shoes on and walked to the campus for a lecture. I came home, took the shoe off and watched it swell up.

The next day I went to A&E and was told it was badly sprained.

Broken finger
Almost a decade ago I hurt my little finger catching a football on a Saturday morning. It hurt all day.

The next morning I was doing a 100 mile bike ride. I couldn't even get the finger to stay on the handlebar, it was dragging down somewhere near my brakes. After 37 miles I decided I couldn't take the vibrations anymore and dropped out of the event.

I went to A&E and they told me it was broken in two places. "I hope you've not been doing anything too strenuous since you did it?" the nurse asked.

Falling through the loft
Three Decembers ago I decided to tidy up the loft when getting the Christmas decorations down.

After an hour moving boxes around I was just about to come down when I lost my bearings and decided to stand on the only bit of the loft that wasn't covered with hardboard.

I put both feet through the floor and ended up dangling in the kids' bedroom with a couple of bruised elbows. Thankfully my baubles weren't harmed.

It makes me sound like a clumsy idiot, but this is my entire CV of personal injury. The most severe pain I've been in has been self inflicted and dealt with with minimal medical treatment.

I suppose as we get older we put ourselves in more dangerous positions - whether that's DIY, exercise or just doing too much at once. 

I'm sure you'll identify with some of these daft injuries - so what is the answer?

Maybe think a bit more about what could possibly go wrong before it happens?

Or maybe I just need to live in a bungalow.

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