I’ve mentioned before that, until I was 19, my family didn’t own a car and that I therefore cycled most places. Of course, this meant that I occasionally fell off my bike. Most of the time I didn’t actually hurt myself, but I had a couple of spectacular tumbles along the way.
The first was when I was aged about 14 and cycling home from the doctor. Our doctor had – rather inconveniently – moved her practice to the other side of town, which always entailed a certain amount of effort in getting there. As soon as I was old enough I was allowed to go off there by myself, provided that I was going for something routine. On this occasion it was one of nine injections which I had each winter to try to desensitise me to pollen and reduce the amount which I suffered from hay fever. (They didn’t work, by the way)
Being winter, it was dark as I cycled home. It was also cold and, needless to say, raining. All was fine until I came to the road which ran parallel to my own. The lighting down there was adequate, but not great, but it was a big, wide road and I never had any concerns about cycling along it. I just put my head down against the rain and tried to get home as fast as I could.
I know that I was making up songs in my head, because that was what I always did on a cycle ride. It helped pass the time. Unfortunately, it also made me take my mind off the road. On this particular road it was pretty much downhill all the way, so I was going at a fair speed when the rear end of a Mini Metro suddenly appeared about ten feet before me. I had time to break and skid, but not to pull around the parked car. I slammed into the rear bumper with my left shin and my head did a very thorough job of smashing the rear windscreen.
Some people out walking their dog saw the whole thing and came over to me. I was shaken and had a cut chin, but fortunately some family friends lived a couple of doors back up the road and I insisted upon being taken there rather than to hospital. Those friends called my parents and it was left to Dad to negotiate with the car owner over the cost of a new windscreen. The bike was a complete write off and it was many months before I had a new one (or so it seemed!). I’ve still got the small scar on my chin from the cut, too.