Skidding, basically. At least that's what it was called in my youth, when the snot-freckled brats who attended my particular seat of learning would spend the winter months sliding across the frozen playground at no small risk to their already declining health. Clearly I would never indulge in this uncultured nonsense myself. There is little profit in careering wildly across an icy schoolyard with your arms flailing passionately, prior to slamming painfully into the side of the science block. It lacks dignity. And that sort of thing won't do when one is attempting to run a successful liquorice and sherbet racket, I can tell you.
Hello. My name is Dr Adolphous Bongo, twice named Trouser Wearer of the Year, in 1977 and 1979. Of course, this was in the seventies when it was much more acceptable to be outlandish in the trouser area. My lime green, glitter-encrusted bell bottoms quite rightly excited wonder and delight, whereas I fear that in this more conservative age they would only provoke fear and alarm. We live in sad times.
But back to those halcyon schooldays, during which the seeds of my interest in medicine began to germinate. For, whilst I did not indulge in those absurd winter sports myself, I did take a keen interest in the many agonising, life-threatening and comical injuries that ensued. There is nothing funnier than seeing one's schoolmates with broken noses, flapping knees or dislocated lungs, but I also observed an opportunity for profit. Since our school nurse was habitually off her breasts on cleaning fluid and Brasso, there was a gap in the market when it came to medical care.
I wasn't a doctor at this point, you understand. I was only seven and wouldn't qualify for another three years, but I took the view that it couldn't be all that difficult, and that most of my school friends were disposable. I discovered that it was all much easier than many professionals let on. Popping a dislocated arm back into its socket is simply a matter of brute force, and the agonising pain of which people often speak is negligible. I never felt a thing, although my patients did tend to scream a lot, which I felt was not only unnecessary but also quite rude. At times like these I found that stuffing a rolled up sock into the patient's mouth was an effective means of muffling the noise and allowed me to save my eardrums whilst getting on with the matter in hand. In fact, this is a technique that I still employ today and in spite of the recent reports that have circulated in the gutter press, speculating on the unusually high percentage of my patients that have died after choking on hosiery, I still keep a ready supply of socks in my desk drawer. For my more melodramatic patients I prescribe legwarmers.
Those early attempts, skirting the edges of medical negligence, netted me a considerable income in lunch money and break-time snacks. Nowadays, as my more opinionated private patients will no doubt tumble over themselves to tell you, my services cost considerably more than a swig of Fanta and half a Curly Wurly. Not least because the severity of the injuries has increased in keeping with the determination of my clientele to seriously damage themselves. Throwing yourself down a Swiss mountainside, trusting only to a thin plank of wood, some knee pads and barely adequate health insurance, is likely to result in something a little more serious than grazed knees, a nasty bruise and a splintered Kit Kat.
No, if you're stupid enough to think that the definition of a good time is skimming down a frozen trench on a tea tray with the intention of self-interring what remains of your shattered frame in a snow drift when you reach the bottom, then it's reasonable to expect that a certain amount of reconstruction will need to take place. So, before you think about wandering into my surgery with your head on backwards, not knowing whether you're coming or going, think of the expense before you waste my time. We are talking a serious amount of cash just for the plaster alone, to say nothing of additional services such as therapy, counselling, panel beating and welding. I am also in the habit of adding a sizeable percentage to my bill to cover the cost of suppressing my disdain.
I suppose we have events like the Winter Olympics to thank for giving gullible people the mistaken idea that competitive sliding is a sport. And a spectator sport at that, although it's hard to fathom what people get out of it. Personally, I find far greater pleasure in sitting outside my local supermarket on a frosty morning and watching old ladies falling over in the car park. Sometimes they can be beautifully balletic, often staggering through quite complex routines incorporating much thrashing and floundering, before crashing to the tarmac in a heap of bruises and broken bones. I have started to show my appreciation by giving them marks out of ten, and have had some display cards printed for the purpose. Last week I was even moved to congratulate one old dear in person, shouldering my way through the crowd that had gathered around her as she waited for the ambulance. Sadly the selfish cow was far too busy crying and wailing to listen to my keenly observed critique, which was a pity as I believe I had one or two comments to make that would have significantly improved her performance.
The point is, these people, bravely venturing out into the most extreme weathers to get their shopping, have just as much right to call themselves athletes as figure skaters, bobsled jockeys or those weirdoes with the brooms. More importantly they don't feel the need to spoil everyone's day by going out in public in hideously unflattering bodysuits and motorcycle helmets. What these sports people need more than anything is a sense of fashion, which makes it all the more tragic that no one these days seems to have any tolerance for a stylishly outlandish trouser.
Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2014
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