As a child, my timing was sometimes exquisite. Not as perfect as that of either of my sisters could be be at times, but pretty damn good nonetheless. Which is why I broke my arm nine days before I started school.
It was, needless to say, caused by me falling over. Opinion as to what I fell over is divided. My mother, who wasn’t even there so far as I recall, says I fell over my own feet. I, on the other hand, distinctly recall a brick, concrete block or something similar that I fell over. Neither of which does me much credit, because whichever way you look at it I was either clumsy or not looking where I was going.
The accident happened as we were walking along a country lane. I was ten yards or so behind the adults and don’t really remember much about what happened right after I fell. I am sure that there must have been tears and I am pretty sure that everyone turned around and came back with me because I was complaining that my arm hurt.
An added complication was that we were visiting my Auntie Betty and her parents, Auntie Annie and Uncle Harold, at the time. They lived on (and worked) a farm in a tiny place called Hayton’s Bent, which is near Ludlow in Shropshire. Which meant that the adults were particularly keen that I hadn’t done anything too significant to my arm, because we were a long way from help.
I also remember that the light was fading as we were on our walk, so I suppose that this must have been either a pre- or more likely post-dinner walk, designed to tire me out before bedtime.
Ultimately, though, my sitting in the farmhouse and complaining that my arm hurt did have some effect, as it was decided to take me to the local hospital in Ludlow. I think this involved several of us piling into my Grandad’s van, although logic tells me that someone must have stayed behind, if only to look after my two year old sister Karen.
We drove to the hospital, only to find that either it was closed, or it didn’t have an x-ray department, or the x-ray department was closed. Whichever reason, it meant driving all the way to Shrewsbury to have an x-ray taken.
The next thing I remember is being in the room to have the x-ray taken. I was told to stand with my arm on a bed, an x-ray plate under my arm. Mum and the radiographer then walked off into the protective booth and so, thinking that it was all done, did I.
Once they got me to stay in one place, the x-ray was taken and a greenstick fracture of the left humerus was diagnosed. Which meant I started school with my arm encased in plaster of paris from shoulder to thumb. The next time I broke my arm, though, it did it properly.