Something happened during a visit to the Faroe Islands last year.
Our local guide mischievously told his group of tourists as our coach stood at resolutely-red temporary traffic lights, “We have four seasons in the Faroes … autumn, winter, spring and road-building.” I noticed that he called the pre-winter season the ‘autumn’ rather than use the American term, the ‘fall’. But, though I understand the entirely sensible origin of the term well enough, being a shortened form of ‘leaf-fall’, I too prefer to refer to the autumn, that time of wonderful reds, golds and yellows as the trees’ foliage dries up before being shed in preparation for the coming winter.
Now if, gentle reader, you are wondering why I have chosen to write about the fall while it is still high summer, I am writing of a fall whose colours range from near-black through purple and red to grey and yellow; for the fall of which I write is of the painful variety, a fall which I sustained in my garden through a moment’s ill-considered haste. It happened in this wise.
Pottering about in my garden … which backs on to the main Edinburgh and Glasgow railway line … I heard the sound of a locomotive approaching rather than the very much more common sound of a diesel multiple unit; and, being still something of an anorak, I ran to the foot of the garden to look over the wall and ascertain what manner of locomotive it was. Alas, my haste was, quite literally, my downfall; my right toe caught a miniscule variation in the levels of two adjacent paving stones, arresting the forward progress of my right foot; the remainder of me, however, continued to try to move forward under the impetus of my speed; the intended forward motion was transformed in an instant into an unexpected falling motion; and I hit the paving stones mighty hard, hard enough to knock the breath out of me and hard enough to make me wonder what damage I might have done myself.
Well, plenty of people have done something very similar, so there’s nothing worthy of record in the incident in itself. It is what happened in the aftermath of the incident which makes it deserving of comment. Finding that all my physical parts seemed still to be in full working order, albeit my left foot, left knee, left elbow and left ribcage were very painful, with the three elements I could see swelling and discolouring even as I examined them, I thought it unnecessary to seek either medical advice or assistance. However, when the pain in my elbow and my ribcage seemed worse after two days, I spoke with my general practitioner on the telephone and was advised to present myself for x-ray at the Minor Injuries Unit in Stirling Community Hospital on the grounds that the waiting time there would probably be less than at the Forth Valley Royal in Larbert. I did so and was comprehensively examined by a clinician who spent more than thirty minutes assuring herself that I had, indeed, done nothing worse than give my entire body an almighty jolt before she arranged for my knee and elbow to be x-rayed to check that neither had been chipped or cracked, which they had not. (Being more than 60 years of age ruled out a chest x-ray in the Minor Injuries Unit for me, although the clinician assured me that my responses to her examination suggested very strongly that I had not broken any ribs.) I went home well satisfied, having promised to visit my own doctor, which I did the following I day, being seen at very short notice and being assured, after my ribs were again carefully examined, that none were broken. And I had scarce returned home before I had a solicitous phone call from an NHS Forth Valley agency to enquire if I were well and coping after my visit to the Stirling unit. Now that’s what I call a truly excellent service; and I’d like to thank everyone who contributed towards it!