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On sense descriptions, the joys of transport and my ability to injure myself

It surprises me how easily I dismiss other people’s descriptions of how their brain interprets the world. Being that I’m now about to embark on career that, in part, will ask me to describe flavours, I really should know by now that everyone experiences things differently and that interpreting the words that are used in describing sensations is what it’s all about.

I still remember writing up joke beer descriptions on the board when I used to be barman, talking of a beer having a hint of baked apple by an abandoned cooking fire, and laughing at the ridiculousness of Jilly Goolden’s histrionic explanations of the make-up of wines, and am shocked by how foolish my past self now seems to my then future self. These days I can happily wax lyrical about cloth plasters, fresh struck matches and primary school plimsolls in whisky, gravelly minerality and green vegetables in tequila, and metholated cherries in port (all three of which I have done in one-day-to-be-published-booze-blog-posts this weekend) but even a couple of years back I’d have given you a funny look and ticked my mental ‘pretentious idiot’ box without a second thought. Before I started finding out the joys of sciatica I thought my uncle’s description of it as being like ‘having a tooth-ache in your leg’ was a strange way of saying ‘it hurts a bit’ until the first night that I woke up to find that it was an incredibly accurate bit of wording.

This contemplation has been brought about by latest awesome bit of self injury, complete with ridiculous circumstances. My sciatica was brought on by playing Fallout 3 for way to long in a single sitting; I painfully broke a tooth hours before catching a plane to the USA, leading to a week of an unwise liquid diet (beer and bourbon) due to a lack of ability to chew, while eating a very soft fish finger; and I brought my potentially award winning taekwondo career to a shuddering fault after falling over on a set of very wide, very unslippery steps while considering a story from an insane chemistry supply teacher of a colleague who had run down some steps while carrying a bottle of hydrochloric acid under each arm with predictably fatal results. Today’s sensation was the ‘pinging’ of a muscle under strain, as while increasing the weight on my left leg to give a burst of speed I felt that incredible sensation and just had enough time to contemplate on the correctness of the sensation’s description before I stumbled into a lamp post in quite impressive levels of pain.

Unfortunately I can’t quite claim to have been doing anything as interesting as the London marathon, sedentary animal that I am, but instead was bending one of my primary rules of living in London – not to run to ensure that I can catch a means of public transport. In this case it was a bus, which to add insult to injury was not only a mere 5 yards from the starting point of my ‘run’ but also sat at the bus stop for a further 5 minutes after I crippled myself, but my original resolution was made thanks to the tube. One rainy evening while changing platforms at speed to make sure I got my train I missed a step, hit a slippery step and fell face first onto the platform. Luckily my self-preservation instincts kicked in, preventing my beautiful face (9/10 fit according to the iPhone ‘Fit or Fugly’ app, backed by Real Science) from doing anything more than impacting into my delicate wrist as I reached out to stop myself, but my plastic bag of goodies with ejected by the saving hand, skidding across the platform towards the open tube door. A kind punter stepped down for long enough to stop its kamikaze slide with his foot before inquiring if I was alright. I looked up from the wet, gravelly ground, scraped some muck from my cheek and said ‘Yeah’, at which point he nodded, climbed back on the train and waved as the doors closed. I rose from the ground, brushed down my damp front, picked up my bag and limped behind a tree to have a pee.

Since that day I have vowed never to run for a train (recently reinforced as I saw someone run face first into the recently closed door of the tube, before bouncing off and trying to make it look like it what was they were trying to do all along) and as of today my running ban has extended to buses. I am considering extending that to trams, as the other main form of public conveyance in London, but a) I’ve used a tram precisely three times since they appeared, b) they’re so irregular that the chance of one being at a stop when I get there is so remote that I doubt I’ll see it in my lifetime and c) I like trams enough as a concept that I am happy to watch one pull away just for the joy of seeing a tram’s arse, that I reckon I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

So, time to break out my walking stick again for the next week of cross London trekking. It may have the bonus of magically getting me a seat on the tube from time to time, but it also carries an incredible guilt as the only people who seem to give up seats are those that probably need them more than I – mainly the elderly, pregnant women and those with obvious physical injuries that a seat will help to assuage for a short time. I will try and carry myself in such a manner as to suggest that my black stick with a black horses head handle is merely a fashion accessory (and I do have at least one hat that will help me carry this off), but that does carry the danger that my fake pimp limp will merely exacerbate my already existing ‘conditions’ and make me walk with an even more exaggerated fools gait than I am already pulling off.

So there it is. Don’t run for a train. Eat your greens and then remember what they smell like – one day you might need to describe a tequila.

(I’ve been thinking too much today, can you tell?)

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