Not the trip you were expecting.
“Send us a postcard next time!” I’ve often heard that, and said it myself, when someone trips over and takes a tumble but didn’t really hurt themself. It’s schoolyard humour I suppose. We are not laughing because we don’t care that a person was hurt or could have been hurt. We laugh because of the way it happens.
Mum used to love to tell us a story about how she and her sister fell down a hole one night when they were young women. It was during World War Two, and in England where this took place, they had the “blackout”, no streetlights and no light was allowed to be shown from buildings. I think people were allowed to carry torches but they would not have the big bright spotlights that we have today. Anyway, mum and her younger sister were going to the pictures. Earlier that day some workmen had been doing some work in the street and had let the hole they were working in uncovered . I imagine there were warning signs but they were not allowed to have a light to illuminate the area. Neither mum nor her sister saw the hole and they both fell in. They had to call for help to get out but they were not hurt. I think one of them broke her glasses is all. Mum would always tell this story as a funny one and we would always laugh.
She used to tell us about the mishaps of our somewhat accident prone grandmother too. One story also took place during the war. In fact it was just after VE Day. I think there was a bank holiday as they call them over there. Mum, her mother and her sister were at the seaside. They got ice creams and were walking along the sea wall enjoying a day out. Mum and her sister decided to jump off the seawall onto the sand, it was only a small jump. My grandmother who would have been I guess around fifty at the time decided that if the young ones could do that so could she. She jumped, but what she hadn’t noticed was that the wall was higher at that point. She had a much bigger jump. She landed in a very undignified way and I think with a face full of ice cream. (It’s at least 25 years since I last heard that story.) Anyway, she wasn’t hurt and her daughters had a good laugh at her expense. My grandfather said that it was unkind to laugh at such mishaps but as mum pointed out if they saw that sort of slapstick comedy at the movies everyone would laugh.
Naomi and I are just as bad. Years ago when we were teenagers we were at Adelaide Railway Station and she tripped on a banana skin. How could I not laugh at that? It’s classic and she was fine.
She has had her fair share of amusement from me too. I am a bit clumsy, always have been so if I fall off a seat as I did in Singapore a few years ago, her first reaction is going to be to laugh. Once when we were having lunch at a hotel on one of our train trips my chair collapsed. It was very embarrassing. She still falls about laughing when we remember that even though it happened in 1974.
Of course not all trips are funny. As I get older I do worry more about falling and breaking bones. A few months after David died I tripped over a kerb at a suburban shopping centre and hurt both my ankles. It was very painful and as I’d come there on the bus I had no way of getting home. Luckily some good friends came to my rescue and came and got me. Even more lucky for me was that although I could barely walk for a couple of weeks I hadn’t broken anything. It was just bad bruising. A more recent trip occurred at home. I’d just seen Naomi off, she wasn’t living here then, and I spotted a pademelon in the garden. I went to get my camera to photograph it but it hopped away. Somehow I managed to trip over a stick. I still don’t know where it came from and I went down flat on my front. My first thought was “Oh no! I’ve broken my camera!” My second was “How the hell am I going to get up?” I managed it and again no damage except cuts and bruises so I was lucky again but neither of those events were in the least bit funny to me at the time. I also tripped over a step in a pub at Burnie one day and I hadn’t even had a drink yet.
I guess that anything that doesn’t cause permanent damage can be turned into a funny story if you have that kind of sense of humour.
“Trip” can mean so many different things and not all of them involve falling!
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