I fell. I was concentrating on the traffic lights opposite, the pressing traffic and moving sideways to avoid a man in a hurry, and did not see (no eyes in the knees) a black metal box, about 30 cms height from the ground, bearing the letters TCSU.
Apparently something to do with speed traps. There is another one near where I live, I noted the characters down to ask the only policeman I know. People said what they say (Did you take pictures ? I hope you’re going to write to the council …) I don’t carry a mobile, I am not going to bother anyone else to take pictures and I can just see the local council looking patiently at a well spoken greyhead with minor abrasions. However, minor is the word other people use of pain they can’t feel: bashed knee, scraped shin, skinned elbow.
Everything was duly submerged in hot water, suitably anointed (Traumeels, from the health food store) and I forgot about the elbow till I was sitting watching something on tv and explored it with the fingers of the other hand a couple of days later. There was a large bloody scab (Savlon this time, antiseptic) and in due course it healed. Growing and healing are two processes I find fascinating, any growth, any healing. But we take the body so for granted. And if there is physical damage as well as emotional impact, we tend to think that if the outside has mended, the inside has too – which is often not the case.
Nothing against plastic surgery, and leaving aside all those unskilled hands proffering botox, fillers, and so on – it’s always context that gets me. Many surgeons cop out of that. Their attitude is frighteningly one dimensional ie “I have the skill, you have the money” implying, if you can make that decision, you must be fine. Give me leave to doubt. I just read one of those fascinatingly repellent articles about young men restructuring themselves (from brow and cheekbones, to shoulders and testicles), all in the name of sexual scoring (as Tina Turner sang “What’s love got to do with it ?”). 20 years ago it was women in pursuit of everything from nose and chin to bosom and waist, in a similar competition. Except of course, young men and women are now in thrall to photographic image (which is often itself altered out of any reality), images played and replayed at speed (rarely discussed) and an overarching desperate loss of self, tribe replacing the individual and eating him/her for breakfast.
In those undoubtedly interesting but often disturbing reviews about the rise in psychological distress among the young, I can’t help feeling we only ever hear half the story. Half the story is part of the cost of the speed of modern life. Half the story is where news stories come unstuck ie they can only tell us so much and often we say to each other “But what about … ? They didn’t say …” and the story develops or dies. You could argue it is a kind of listening hook. Consumerism applies to media as much as a myriad other more tangible things like bread and bedlinen.
But you only have one body. Nowadays we run programmes (car crash tv) on what can go wrong while other programmes simultaneously show us this one and that one, “with her new face”, “after his desert sabbatical” – looking like hell or a blurred image of somebody else with a similar hairline. A perfect example of the mixed messages which destabilise whole sections of society from within.
Unless you have something seriously wrong, up to and including a blood disorder, you heal, some of us quickly, others more slowly. But that is only the first part of a two part question. The second strand, absolutely as important as the first, is how it affects you, what you recall, what the body remembers. And I have spoken to enough child abuse survivors to know that they look like anybody else. But that is not how they feel.
*temple – as in
My body is a temple