"And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up".
The words of Thomas Wayne to his young son. It's a very inspiring notion too. Life hits us with so many problems and, in dealing with them, we become stronger, wiser, better people as a result. We get fired from our job so we work harder to get an even better job. We lose a loved one so we grieve and let time teach us to keep the memory of that person precious and to love the ones we still have even more. We see the new trailer for Derek so we drag a key down the side of our neighbour's new car. Basically, we cope. We rise up in the face of adversity. But why?
I'm very interested in falling because I've recently become a faller. In a way, it's very nostalgic. In the 70's, I used to fall all the time. That's what it was like back then. Bay City Rollers, Zoom lollies and falling. That was all we did, every day. I'd fall on my way to school, I'd fall going into Mass, I'd fall playing Mouse Trap somehow. Mum would give me a shilling to get a pound of television from Radio Rentals and I'd fall all the way there and all the way back. And do you know what would happen when I fell? Nothing. I wouldn't even notice. I'd be straight back up, buying flares and reading the latest copy of I.R.A. Comic, before I'd even properly hit the ground. That's what my youth was like in the 70's. Long summers, Star Wars and constantly falling over. That and almost permanently being fucked by Jimmy Savile.
But as I grew less attractive to the television presenters of the time, the falling just seemed to gradually phase itself out. Of course, I still enjoy watching other people fall. It's hilarious. Especially when it's someone I know and care for. I genuinely can't remember the last time I fell (probably because I was drunk) but I know it wasn't recently. So, you can imagine how I felt when I fell just a few days ago.
I woke up that morning to the sound of my next door neighbour learning to play the hammer. When I went downstairs, I saw that I hadn't closed the door of my freezer properly and there was water all over the kitchen floor. Water that Jerk clearly spent the night playing in and tip-toed it all over the living room. I had a cold shower (not by choice) and made myself a tea that I somehow lost for two days. I spent 10 minutes looking for it and shouting threats at it. Anyway, it was on the mantelpiece. The postman arrived with some bills that were furious with me and, while buying some soy milk in Tesco, a fight broke out right in front of me. Two men, inches away from me, punching the shit out of each other. In Tesco. How far we've come from wild west saloons...
THAT was the morning. Then I got on the train to Kettering.
Getting to Kettering costs £67 and your sanity. Getting the ticket from a machine that argued with me took 15 fucking minutes, so that meant I missed my train and had to take a later one. The good thing about that was it was now slap bang in the middle of rush hour. I took a deep breath, got on the tube with every single person in London and, for the next 20 minutes, just let my face get baptised in the sweaty armpit of a 50 year old man playing Candy Crush. I got off the tube at St. Pancras and had to guess what platform my train was on and where they were hiding it. Once on the train, I was joined by a man who shouted on his phone and gave a series of women a series of terrible reviews.
Backstage at the gig, I had a moment to think about my day. It wasn't great. How can anyone hit someone like that? Especially in Tesco. Why does such a short train journey cost so much? How do commuters get on the tube every day like that? Doesn't it make them want to walk? Why do people still not realise their loud, obnoxious phonecalls are aggressive and disgusting? It was then that I tripped on a low platform lying on the ground. I didn't fall though. I just stepped onto the low platform and kept walking. It was very dark backstage but I had every confidence that this low platform was long and I could walk confidently on it for quite a few steps.
I was wrong.
It was short.
You'd think falling would instantly transport me back to the good old days of the 70's. Spacehoppers! Evel Knieval! Peter Sutcliffe! But, no. This wasn't like the 70's at all. Falling now takes ages. It's slow and insanely drawn out, like life or a conversation with a comedian. My arms flailed, my body twisted, my balance retired. I hit the ground with a corpse's thud and...I just lay there.
The fall didn't hurt but it definitely was a shock. Luckily the shock of actually falling had passed on that long, long journey to the ground. I had already come to terms with hitting the floor even though I tried valiantly not to. But why did I try? Why would I want to stop this wonderful moment happening? I lay there, far away from angry bills and urinating freezers, in the pitch dark on a dirty floor and I was finally free. When you hit the ground, there is nowhere to go. It's only in the walking around world where the options of pain, frustration and failure will find us. But in the dark, on the ground...it is where I belong. No hate, no anger and no one to break my heart. It is liberty.
" And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up".
Yeah. And what a well-rounded guy he turned out to be.