A funny thing happened on the way to the enlightenment…
One of the great weird anomalies of my increasingly daffy existence is that I have only ever had backache three times. The first time was the result of falling from a horse when I was drunk and riding bareback. This was not so much an accident as an inevitability. I'm sure Calamity Jane would have done it differently. The other two times I was doing absolutely nothing to warrant it, honest.
In all the years I trained in Aikido, a martial art in which you fall from shoulder height onto a hard mat approximately fifty times per hour, I never once injured myself. My legendary lack of prowess on the body board has seen me nosedive into the sand at speeds at which I could invite Jeremy Clarkson to eat my board shorts. I may have tumbled from the raging surf with my bikini top wrapped around my neck like a tie after a bar brawl, but I never had more than the odd sand graze to show for my simulated super wash. In my endorphin addicted thirties I was known to do back to back gym classes of Tight Tums And Bums which consisted solely of tortuous crunches. Not a twinge in the lower lumbar department.
My first experience of mysterious backache happened about five years ago. I woke up in the morning and could not move, for no reason. I was alone so you can stop your sniggering in the back. The pain lasted for a couple of days and then disappeared. Then last Tuesday, it occurred again. I had been industriously cleaning the flat in anticipation of a visit from yet another realtor with a shirt made out of tablecloth material and boy band hair when suddenly my back seized up and I have barely been able to move since.
This is really no great inconvenience for me since I like nothing better than to confine myself to my bed but it has meant that sitting at the computer has been impossible. As you know, I don’t like doctors so I have just been taking it easy and it does seem to be getting better. Of course I have self-diagnosed everything from diabetes to bird flu but never seriously entertained anything other than I’m just not very fit and flexible at the moment and cleaning out the cupboard under the sink will never be a good idea.
I did manage to stumble up to irritable Argun, the Stationer on Saturday. I truly felt that my discomfort could only be enhanced by a withering stare from the great man himself. I desperately wanted to buy a new index box and record cards too. I’m sure there’s a fantastic free foolproof indexing system available on the internet that also improves your chess game and makes you a mozzarella, basil and tomato focaccia for lunch but I am very fond of filling out the cards and have been able to lie in bed for the last couple of days getting my fourth draft into order.
The last time I called Argun ‘irritable’ I got into trouble from Dave Hill who said ‘don’t you love Argun?’ to which I replied, ‘of course I love Argun, but he is extraordinarily irritable’. I hasten to report that the rest of the staff at Argun Stationers are unreservedly delightful which is just as well as these are the ones you mostly interact with. Argun stands at the back like a stern Buddha overseeing the photocopier and it was in his capacity as grandmaster of repro that I crumbled in the face of his inscrutable irritability some years ago.
One of my closest friends died and it fell to me to organise the entire funeral. I had just started a new job which was an ‘8’ on the intolerably hideous employment experiences scale and my friend had a vile villain of a partner who infuriatingly conjured a preposterously fake posthumous emotional state where none had existed before, rendering the mere uselessness I had carefully factored in, an untenable liability.
You could say I was a tad stressed when I rushed to the back of the shop with the Order of Service for the imminent funeral to be printed on fancy card to find an implacable Argun lying in wait. Because I hesitated for a nanosecond about the choice of card, he berated, ‘you must be more decisive!’, at which point I pleaded, ‘cut me some slack, my friend just died’. He remained resolutely unmoved by my plight. That man is a reality TV show waiting to happen. It is a lovely shop though and has absolutely everything in it, albeit arranged after the fashion of a Diagon Alley junk shop.
So, officially invalided or maybe that should read invalidated, I shall generously award myself a few more days of taking it easy and continue with the therapeutic task of cataloguing curious events on the Costa del Sol from the comfort of my own bed. Hasta luego!