Sue Limb: Monthly musings of the naughtily nice kind

Falldown Hazard. Clumsy Woman Stumbled On Rug

I always try to fall over without interrupting the flow of conversation, because I don’t want to upset anyone - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Monthly musings of the naughtily nice kind

I’ve always known I’d be the sort of old woman who falls over, partly because I was the sort of young woman who fell over. At 19, I was drunk enough to keel over after two glasses of white wine, and vowed never to drink again. Soon afterwards I did become teetotal, for different reasons (migraine – now a distant memory). But my tendency to topple over continued. I think it’s to do with ambition. Even now I foolishly try to stride along the garden path at 20mph carrying an armful of laundry and forgetting the rake I left there earlier. 

I always try to fall over without interrupting the flow of conversation, because I don’t want to upset anyone. I head-butted a parking meter once while saying goodbye to a friend, looking over my shoulder, not where I was going. The cracked head was agonising, but I cheerily waved and marched off, assuring them I was ‘completely all right!’. I waited until I was out of sight before giving into a howl of pain – a silent one, of course, as there were still people about. So British, somehow.

In terms of falling, I am twinned with Joe Biden, although he’s even older than me. Joe can’t sprint up the aeroplane steps without tripping and collapsing like a broken marionette, which is a gift to his political enemies. ‘Is this man fit to lead the Free World?’ they pontificate. There’s nothing wrong with being ruled by feeble old men and women. The macho Russian President liked to show off his pecs and abs bare chested, on horseback – and where did that get us?

There is something shocking about seeing a public figure fall over, though. Cosmopolitan have got a website compilation of celebs tripping and sprawling. (Recommended). The undisputed champ has got to be Lady Gaga, who is regularly upended by her own far-fetched couture: ostrich feathers, dangling chains, Ikea wardrobes, seven-inch flashing heels, etc.

Nowadays, I only wear sensible laced-up boots, but I do live in an area of Outstanding Uneven Stoniness, and I was walking the dogs the other day, swinging my virtuous poo-bag and admiring the landscape, when my ankle buckled and I lurched off horizontally like an Exocet missile. The poo bag flew up into the air like an event from Satan’s Olympics, landing harmlessly, thank God – i.e. not on my head. I, however, did land on my head – my eye socket. (Not recommended). Immediately the sheepdog came up to me and sniffed my face, as if to say, ‘Do you require anything? Shall I lick your face, or perhaps dig a grave?’ The other dog – my adored terrier – showed no interest at all, just wandered off sniffing the verge. Completely uncaring. Although he might have been doing that teenage thing of trying to ignore your parent when they are behaving foolishly. My mother fell downstairs in Cavendish House once, when I was about nine, grabbed me and dragged me down with her with a tremendous attention-seeking clatter. I didn’t forgive her for about 40 years.

Anyway, I’ve acquired a massive shiner, my neck is cricked, and to cap it all my kneecap is, well, kneecapped. This injury coincided with the arrival of the swallows, when I normally stand enthralled gazing into the sky as they wheel above. At the moment I can’t lift my eyes from the ground in front of me. The swallows must think I’m sulking. I’m going to be a swallow in my next life. You never see them tripping and sprawling and embarrassing their chicks, do you?

Follow Sue on Twitter: @sue_limb