Despite other calamities, I have never been badly injured. I have never broken a bone, nor been cut deeply enough to require more than a bit of superglue, a steri-strip or a stitch. Injuries contain few overly traumatic memories for me, and I like my modest collection of scars, obtained through various misadventures dating from the 1980s. Some of them mark occasions that are etched onto the record for other reasons, while some lend a lasting longevity to some memory of an unimportant, everyday episode that would probably otherwise have been lost eventually.
Here are some. For purposes of accuracy, I don’t think my counterfeit front tooth technically counts as a scar, so I have omitted it, even though I am quite fond of it.
- Eyebrow. So faint that you can barely see it these days – merely a hair’s-breadth vertical wrinkle in my eyebrow, but this was the first. Dangling gamely over the back of the sofa as a toddler, I slipped and dived into my Fisher Price farm. Dobbin the horse escaped damage, but I was not so lucky, returning from hospital with a handsome butterfly plaster over my eye.
- Fourth finger, right hand. Devotees of the book ‘Stig of the Dump’ will recall that there is a scene where the main character builds a chimney out of old tins. As a small boy, with the help of irresponsible adults, I tried this. The thing about using pliers to bend over the jagged rims of old bean cans is that it’s very easy to slice your finger open on the opposite edge. The scar, just below the top joint, is a nice wavy shape, and looks like one of those flowing v-shaped squiggles that you draw to represent birds flying in the distance. As concerned grown-ups clustered round me, a four year-old Christian tried to nuzzle his way through the forest of legs, shouting ‘Let me see the blood!’
- Forehead. This one was a mosquito bite in the jungle which turned into a little ball of scar tissue, the unsightliness of which infuriated me, though no-one else ever noticed. It was expertly removed and transformed into a more prominent but somehow more acceptable scar that hides in my frown lines. The best bit of this one is that I can legitimately claim to have had plastic surgery.
- Chin. My most recent acquisition. This one is a simple cautionary tale of how too much beer, ginger wine, red wine, whisky and champagne, coupled with a backpack full of wood, can end with one hitting a pavement quite hard, face-first. Fortunately Tron and Christian were around to pick me up again, and they sobered up very quickly on seeing all the blood that Christian had missed out on twenty years earlier during the Stig of the Dump episode. Mattias was there too, but he was running off into the distance windmilling his arms.
- Top of the head. Growing up is a hazardous business. You can leap down the stairs several times a day and never suffer any damage from a jutting plaster ledge about two thirds of the way down, until the onset of the teenage years tips you towards six foot. At which point your leap is curtailed abruptly, and you find yourself getting unsteadily to your feet from the hall floor and answering the door before you realise there is hot head blood trickling liberally down your face. Like ship-killer rocks at very low tide, when my hair is cut shorter than usual, this one is visible about an inch behind my hairline.
- Thumb knuckle, left hand. I was working at the factory on a job which entailed banging a heavy lump of steel in the shape of a small bowler hat onto a cylinder of bearings then pumping the whole lot full of grease. I missed the bearings, and hit my own hand with the sharp edge. It was a little while before I noticed the blood from my torn knuckle oozing through the dirty white cloth gloves. I think the unit that I was assembling is now part of a conveyor belt deep underneath the English Channel.
Anyone else got any favourites?