Kidiot: Emma ends up in a bush #3
I’m not quite sure how old I was in this one. I’m going to guess around six. Young enough to still do stupid things, old enough that I sensed the impending doom before it happened.
During my childhood, I spent a lot of time in Prembrokshire, West Wales. My mum did some teaching work down there, so she had friends in the area and we’d go and visit quite frequently. We stayed in various places. Sometimes we went camping, other times we stayed in little local cottages. Often we stayed in this converted lighthouse thing…although I’m not sure it was actually ever a lighthouse. I remember something about it being used during the wartime as a look out post, and it used to have old radar equipment on the top deck that you could play with. It was excellent.
On this particular occasion, however, we were staying in a caravan belonging to one of my mum’s friends, which she kept in her back garden. Now, mum’s friend has a son called Daniel. From my hazy memories, he was a good kid and we got on. I was always a bit of a tomboy, so I was up for football and mucking around in the garden. On a side note, I also remember Daniel introducing me to the Ecco the Dolphin game on some form of computer, that may have been pre-PC. Oh, man, these stories make me feel insanely old.
Anyway, one warm afternoon, Daniel enthusiastically asks if I would like to have a go at his “assault course”. I, of course, say yes.
Now this “assault course” was not the type you got in a park, or at school; tires and swings and nice soft bark to land on should you fall.
This “assault course” involved, from what I remember, climbing over a pile of something covered in tarpaulin, shuffling along a narrow brick wall and then sliding between large gas canisters (the type that are used on boats, which were taller than my six-year-old self).
Basically, it wasn’t so much of an assault course as working your way safely through the semi-dangerous stuff behind Daniel’s garage. Even as a six-year-old, I looked at Daniel dubiously as he explained the route through. I wasn’t all that keen on the idea.
But I was bored and, if you’ve read #2 in this series, you’ll remember that boredom made me do some ridiculous things as a child.
And so Daniel said we’d both go through once to start, and then the next time we’d race.
The first time through went well enough. I made it through unscathed, although I went really slow through the gas canisters. I didn’t have to know what the warning signs meant to know it wasn’t a clever idea to knock them about. Although it occurs to me now that they may very well have been empty and Daniel likely new this. Cheat!
Then the race lap came, and Daniel won, of course. He’d done it so many times before, he was clearly going to get through it faster. That was how I argued for a rematch.
But I don’t think it was until our 5th rematch, that disaster struck.
See at some point, I got in my own head about climbing on the wall. Daniel would walk along it confidently, but I insisted on crawling along. I didn’t want to fall off and the more I did it, the more nervous I got, particularly after a couple of slips. I would stop on all fours and look down. On one side was a bunch of boat junk, and on the other – you guessed it – was a bush.
But on that fifth lap, Daniel was already miles ahead of me, and I decided to be brave.
I decided to stand.
Almost immediately, my footing went and I fell backwards, in slow motion, over the wall. I landed upside-down square in the middle of the bush.
That doesn’t sound so bad? Seems like a fairly comfortable landing?
Ah, but there was something I forgot to mention earlier: the bush was actually a huge pile of stingy nettles.
So yeah, I lay there for a moment – staring at the Welsh landscape and a bunch of munching sheep – thinking about my life choices. I wiggled slightly, trying to pull myself upright, but that only made the stinging worse. It felt like my entire body was crawling with bees.
Daniel hadn’t seen me go over, so I started to yell, “MUM!” at the top of my voice. It felt like ages before someone came to my rescue, but I have a feeling it was only a minute or so.
Mum appeared, grabbed my hands, and managed to pull me back over the wall. I remember a mixture of don’t-you-ever-do-that-again’s and are-you-okay’s. She spent the rest of the day with me in the caravan, smothering my back, arms, legs and hands with Anthisan and trying to get me to go to sleep.
I managed to nod off eventually. When I woke up, my body was still buzzing, but I could at least move. I think it was a couple of days before the sensation dissipated completely and since then, whenever I get stung by a nettle, I pay it very little attention. One sting is nothing in comparison to a hundred or so.
Years later this story became the basis for my fear of sheep. My mum swears there weren’t any, but I have this image of them coming to say hello while I was lying upside-down yelling for help. They were munching away in my face. But given how unreliable a narrator I have proven to be about other childhood mischief, I’m willing to say that the memory may well have become distorted over time.
I should also mention that my mum was in the house when we started this idiocy, and thought we were just playing in the back garden like normal human children who don’t don’t want to injure themselves. I was a thoroughly unpredictable child, so these Kidiot stories are 100% on me. Sorry, Mum xx
At least as an adult I only do stuff like…break my ankle in a sword fights and bring home stray cats for you to look after 😉