Lifestyle

How do I know middle age is at an end? I fell over in the bath

The older you get, the more dramatic it feels to fall over. I think this is less to do with creeping fragility than how out of practice adults are at it. When you are a kid, you fall over all the time and bounce straight back up like Wile E Coyote after he’s been flattened by a steamroller. When you take a tumble in middle age, your life flashes past you before you hit the ground, at which point you see stars and then, for an instant, keep perfectly still before you dare to explore what life-changing injuries you may have sustained.

In my 20s, I played a lot of football as a goalkeeper; I enjoyed throwing myself about. The last time I played, quite recently, I was delighted to find I could still get substantially airborne. I was less delighted to find that upon coming back to Earth I nigh-on passed out and needed half the team to help me back to my feet. Never mind pilates, yoga and whatnot, we should be able to go to falling-over sessions during which we’re pulled, pushed and tripped over willy-nilly until we get reaccustomed to falling over.

All of which is my preamble to the sub-Pooterish revelation that I fell over in the bath a week ago last Monday. It was early in the morning. One moment I was standing up to get out of the tub, the next I was beached like a broken whale: half in, half out, having given the right side of my ribcage an almighty bash. There I remained, speechless in pain, listening to the 6.30am sports bulletin. The agony remains very real. “It will hurt like hell for two weeks,” my GP promised. “And carry on hurting for six to eight weeks.” I think this is the event marking my transition from middle to old age. And there’s a long way still to fall.