PC 225 The Fall Guy

Following on from my last postcard and continuing a little the theme of self-deprecating stories, I hope you will find this one is less intimate?

Do you ever dream of falling? Apparently it’s one of the most commonly reported dream subjects, this feeling of falling and it’s not falling in love or embracing any other emotion, it’s the physical action of falling through the air, one imagines from some height, with a degree of uncertainty about how it will end. Wow, that’s a long sentence, sorry. Oh! And I have never dreamt about falling, at least not in my conscious memory; who knows what goes on in that subconscious. I never quite understand how dreams can be so so vivid … and then you wake up, think ‘I’ve been dreaming’ and can’t recall anything.

These scribbles, despite what you might be thinking, are not about dreams, but about the act of falling, as I did the other morning. After we have learned to walk, it is one of the subconscious actions we carry out without thinking, like breathing. Like lifting your arm; you reach for something and unconsciously all the muscles do the bidding of the mind. Being physically fit, walking was just something you did, so it was a surprise when I enrolled in the British Army that one or two of my fellow officer cadets had two left feet and had to be taught how to use both independently; and how to swing the alternate arm – which seemed even more difficult!

So I cross the road and as I am reaching the pavement I trip and stumble, somehow (presumably to trip you have to have your toe too low?), sense myself heading for the rough asphalt that replaced some nice paving stones, put out my hand and in the last minute stop myself from being a complete prat! So not quite base over apex.

My hand stings and I look to see chips of gravel imbedded in my palm; blood starts to ooze. My pride’s taken a dent (Note 1). I get up; nothing obviously broken and no one has seen me – that’s a relief! Before all of you writers dust off any minimal notes you might for my obituary I am OK, shaken but not stirred. I collect my paper and gingerly make my way home. Realising my chinos have blood showing through on one knee, I am reminded how Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear and gentleman farmer) never buys any other types of trousers but jeans, as jeans tend to hide the odd scuff, the little bit of dirt, whereas on my green Chinos it’s obvious. (Note 2)

So I became a guy who fell, a fall guy! Actually ‘The Fall Guy’ was a television action series in the 1980s, featuring Lee Majors as Colt Seavers who earned money from tracking and capturing bail-jumpers. The Fall Guy has another more well-known meaning, referring to a person to whom blame is deliberately and falsely attributed in order to deflect blame from another party. Obvious contenders here in the UK might be the scientists who appear flanking the politicians at the evening Covid briefings, not fully ‘independent’ and yet asked to support whatever policy is being outlined. If it all goes tits up, not difficult to know who takes the blame?

Well, it’s not the chap in the middle!

For those of you with longer memories, the stand-out American fall guy from the 1980s was Oliver North. The Iran-Contra affair was a political scandal that engulfed Ronald Regan’s presidency but it was North who was prosecuted. In a typical American twist, by 1991 all charges were dismissed; they know how to protect their own!

Now every morning, as I walk through the local streets to Rami, I pass the place where I tripped. I look at the pavement and kerb and give it a ‘you bugger’ sort of malevolent stare. It stares back. You might recall, as I am sure we’ve all done it (?), kicking the table that you bumped your knee on, as if it was its fault. Inanimate objects, no matter how much we hate or love them, have no emotions. Cleaning myself up, I feel lucky ….. and then am reminded of when I broke a bone in my arm, not sure whether the radius or the ulna, aged 11.

Glencot, a boys’ boarding school for 5-12 year olds, operated from an old manor house just down the road from Wookey Hole, near Wells in Somerset. The building is now a hotel!

Down at the basement level was a room with a table-tennis table and a black & white television. We used to gather around the latter to watch Saturday evening programmes as a treat. One music show featured Perry Como, who had a hit single “Oh! What did Dela ware boy?” whose lyrics ran through all the states of the USA and was clever. Like all catchy songs it still resonates “…… she wore a brand new jersey……” and “What did missi sip boy?” ….. “She sipped a mine sota”. Anyway, I digress. Two short flights of steps led up out of this room, the first step two feet away from the others.

I tripped on the first, put my hand out, caught my forearm on the next flight and broke a bone. My plaster cast was covered in others’ scribbles within a day.

The plaster-cast covered by the Cricket Scoring book!

A few weeks ago the US President Joe Biden tripped going up the steps of Air Force One and the press and everyone else made fun of him. Sadly it seems it’s a common trait.

I tripped on a paving slab on St John’s Road in Battersea many years ago, all suited and carrying my brief case after seeing a client in the IOD. I recovered my vertical position but not before someone starting laughing loudly.

Bearing has, I think, a great deal to do with our physical and mental well-being and with walking; demonstrable pride, neck in the back of the collar, head-up, shoulders back – that sort of thing. (Note 3) Maybe I should just look where I am going?

Richard 9th April 2021


Note 1 ‘Pride Comes Before a Fall’ a C16th saying suggesting if you are too confident something bad will happen to remind you you are not as good as you think you are. Doesn’t apply here!! Moi? Surely not.

Note 2 Our new neighbour fell up his internal stairs before Christmas and cracked two ribs, so I was lucky!

Note 3 In yoga there’s a posture that requires you to keep your head level but drop your eyes to 4ft in front of you, bend your leg over the other and lower yourself to a swat. Try it!

3 thoughts on “PC 225 The Fall Guy

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