Snow and ice are now well and truly on my List. As some of you may know, Northern Ireland has been covered in a blanket of snow which has turned into sheet ice on most of the pavements/walkways. In practice, this means two things. Firstly, Britain's amazing ability to grind to a complete administrative and infrastructural standstill due to 5 cms+ of snow kicked in with a vengeance, throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. In Scotland, it was apparently tools-down even on boats (is the snow lying particularly deep in the North Channel of the Irish Sea?!) Secondly, it has meant that everyone in Belfast has very quietly but firmly been praying, hoping or wishing that they a) do not fall on the ice and b) if they do fall, no passing car will toot the horn at them, roll down the wind and shout "Yeooooooo!!!!"
Yesterday, scenario B occurred to me without scenario A. En route from the gym, I decided to walk down Balmoral Avenue, basically the main entrance way to Malone and one of the busiest roads in the entire south section of the city. Bear in mind, I have my gym bag swung over my shoulder and my i-Pod earphones in, merrily lost in a world of how utterly delightful my life would be if it did indeed have a soundtrack. Then, suddenly, just between the old Public Records Office and the entrance to Malone Park, my right leg decided to go on safari from the rest of my body and shot out in front of me, thanks to our good friend, Mr. Ice. In order to save myself, I was forced to execute something very much like a 1970s' disco dance move in order to save myself from falling flat on my back. My arms flung up and out like a confused Eva Perón, my gym bag swung round and smacked into my crotch and my earphones fell out of my ear. At that moment, three cars honked their horns and one driver somehow magically wound his window down in time to shout out, "Crackin' dance moves there, son!"
Needless to say, I immediately dashed into Malone Park, assuming that the area in which Meredith, Imogen and Cameron live in Popular could not possibly let me down after this horrific in-street humiliation. To my horror, I realised that the entire tree-lined avenue's pathways were coated with a thick layer of ice-rink like ice. I stared down at it, wondering how in the name of Sweet Baby Jesus I was going to make my way across it (it's the longest residential avenue in the United Kingdom) without falling flat on my face. I looked down at my shoes, cursing the fact that I hadn't brought either an ice-pick or a team of huskies. Then, from one of the houses on the left, a girl emerged with sunglasses on her face, an enormous Louis Vuitton bag slung over her arm and shoes that were definitely not ice-friendly. Not once did she trip or look in anyway perturbed by the ice underfoot. It was in that moment that I knew, more than ever, that I had set Popular in the right place. Furthermore, I could be thankful that despite my Stayin' Alivesque shimmy, I had not in fact fallen either on Balmoral Avenue or in Malone Park.
Today, however, there was no such luck.
On the way to my totally super-cool early morning lecture on late medieval vernacular theology (Julian of Norwich is my home girl), I decided to cut down Rugby Avenue, incorrectly assuming that if I'd successfully navigated the treachery of Malone Park the day before, nothing could fell me now. I had a copy of The Cloud of Unknowing, Mirror of the Blessed Life and GQ in my arms as I strutted my way towards university through the student heartlands. There was some ice, but not much.
Then, as I slipped slightly (quick check for no cars this time!) I saw a mobile phone lying on the ground. I walked on, before remembering how infuriated I had been when no-one handed by BlackBerry in when I lost it a few months ago. And also, in general, I can't think of anything more annoying and irritating than losing your mobile. So, I turned back to go and collect it. I figured I could hand it into lost property at the School of Sociology and then get to class.
The mobile, still lying in a little pile of snow, appears in my sight line again. A girl in uggs is walking towards me. Another, slightly dishevelled creature, approaches from the opposite side of the road. And that, dear friends, is when both of my legs swung out from under me like a demented go-go dancer and I ended-up flat on my back. In the split second it took my back and arms to make contact with the concrete underfoot of Rugby Avenue, I had just about enough time to choose to save my head or my BlackBerry.
There is no scratch on my phone. And my head hurts. A lot.
At more or less exactly the same time, the girl in ugg boots also did a half-somersault and ended up lying next to me, gazing up with a sort of traumatised expression at the grey sky. Dishevelled girl has, by this stage, arrived and picks up the mobile phone. "I fell here earlier," she explained, retrieving her mobile. "Are you two alright?"
Ugg girl is still staring up, mortified, at the heavens. Apparently too humiliated to move. "The one thing I asked Jesus for this week was not to fall," she explained piteously. I scrambled to my feet and helped ugg girl up and that's when it hit me. I had fallen on my back in broad daylight in the middle of Belfast.
I fell. On my back. Broad daylight. Middle of Belfast.
No, good. Sweet.
And it's funny, but you know, it's one of those things that you fear and then when it happens ... it's every bit as awful as you imagined.
I need to start throwing salt out wherever I go.