The thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to

I can’t remember the last time I physically injured myself. I’m not talking about breaking a nail or banging my head – I mean something that resulted in real bleeding, a large bruise, a break.

As a child I never needed to go to hospital – I’ve never broken a bone (although I did manage to break off the bottom half of one of my front teeth while attempting to perform a pole jump using a pool cue). However my hobbies of BMX and skateboarding meant that I spent many years with a constant tattoo of bruises, cuts and scabs across my limbs. Add to this the results of other types of physical recklessness, and the (thankfully) rare schoolyard fight, and, like many boys, I was all too familiar with the tang of blood in the mouth, the sting of antiseptic lotion, the dizziness and trembling from a bad fall.

My life (or the life I have chosen..?) no longer puts me in any great physical danger – I exercise, but not in a “throwing myself off mountains” or “wresting alligators” kind of way, and my wife and two girls are relatively gentle with me, the occasional kick or bite notwithstanding. Any physical pain I experience now is likely to be the onset of old age – a twinge in the lower back, a stiffness in the knees, a headache, heartburn.