I was not in a hurry. I was being careful. Everybody told me I should be careful – ‘at my age’ they added, very carefully. So I was very careful. But it happened none-the-less. I wasn’t doing any harm to anyone. I was minding my own business. But it happened.
The sun was out, shining benevolently on me and the rest of the world. I was coming home from the library, carrying a book on being careful in old age. How not to bend down, stand up, turn around, look up, look down, for fear of falling. Not much left to do, I thought. Nevertheless, I carried on, carrying my years lightly before me, and my past somewhat darkly. I wavered now and again, but that’s to be expected, I thought, when the stairs are steeper and the policemen younger. It’s all the same to me, I said, reprovingly, to myself.
Then I came to those steps. I knew them well. Stone they were, with a pretty fair handrail, much admired by all who passed by. Of course, they didn’t need the handrail in the first place. But everything was normal. The steps were dry, a slight haze lit the air; a cricket ball would swing, I thought.
Then, in a trice, a moment, a nothingness, I dived forward like an Olympic diver, hands out, perfectly poised for a racing dive. Only this time there was no water. Perfectly executed, I would have thought, if I could, which I couldn’t.
I picked myself up (there was no-one else to do it) and looked at my grazed hands as if to blame them for the fall. Then I blamed the steps, giving them a kick for their bad behaviour.
Then I blamed the sun and the shadow on the step halfway up. I had tripped over a shadow. How clever was that?