Self-inflicted injury hurt my face... and my pride writes Steve Canavan

On Saturday I suffered a self-inflicted injury so ludicrous I’m almost embarrassed to tell the story. However, I’ve a column to fill so I better had.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 3:45 pm
The Lake District

I’d been out all day with Mary and Wilf (that’s my two children, not the name of a 1960s folk band), having taken them to a maze in the Lake District. When we got there the maze was closed – which was a tough sell to the kids (‘hey, kids, you know that maze we’ve driven 100 miles to see? It’s shut’) - but fortunately at the same place was a bouncy castle, a playground, some soft play and – most crucially of all – a kiosk selling sugary sweets and chocolate.

We had a very pleasant day and after stopping at my mum’s caravan for a few hours en route back, the children and I eventually arrived home at about 9.45pm.

Now normally when I drive home at that time the kids fall asleep and I am able to do something I rarely get to do in my own car these days, namely play adult music. This is a wonderful treat because usually –as any parent with young children will attest - you have to put on something the kids like, in our case a CD titled Peppa Pig Sings Nursery Rhymes, which I play on a loop for an hour with both of my children singing along. For the first 10 minutes, it’s cute. For the next 50 minutes – especially when you hear The Grand Old Duke of York for the 12th time – it does start, I must confess, to grate a little.

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Anyhow, possibly due to the afore-mentioned sugary sweets, my relaxing drive home didn’t materialise as the children – and god knows how they did this given they are aged four and two – remained wide-awake.

As well as listening to the Peppa CD, we spent pretty much the entire journey playing Mary’s current favourite car past-time – the driver game. This involves guessing whether the car we’re about to overtake is driven by a boy or a girl. You’d think she’d quickly get bored of this but displaying astonishing staying power for one so young, she makes it last at least 45 minutes. ‘This green car dad – boy or girl?’ “Boy”, I’ll wearily say. ‘No, you have to choose the same as me and I think girl’. “Ok, girl,” I’ll say. We drive past the car. There’s a man driving. ‘Boy!’, she’ll scream. ‘You should have said boy, dad. Now, this red car, dad – boy or girl?’ And on it goes.

Honest to god, if you think a 50-mile stretch of the M6 is dull, you want to try it with my daughter in your car. I have to stop myself deliberately swerving off the road and into a field just to break the monotony.

Anyway, suffice to say that as I pulled up outside my house not long before 10pm on Saturday, both kids were still laughing, giggling and very much not asleep.

Mrs Canavan had invited 10 friends around (this was one of the reasons I’d made myself scarce all day) and they were sat in the kitchen drinking the night away and putting the world to rights, with important conversations such as who might win this year’s Love Island or what’s the best conditioner to use on coloured hair.

I shouted hello before putting the children to bed, then going to unpack the car.

I opened each door in turn to retrieve various bags and gather litter, but when I got to the driver’s door – and for some inexplicable reason I can attribute only to possible early-onset dementia – in the act of opening it I simultaneously lent forward to look through the window … thus I opened the car door straight into my own face.

It smacked into my lip and nose, the impact so hard I staggered backwards. I bent double, holding my hand to my mouth, and when I took my hand away it was covered in blood.

Being English my immediate instinct was to look around and check none of the neighbours were watching.

In agony and slightly afraid I would bleed out and die, I had no choice but to stagger back in the house and into the kitchen where the first aid box is (by first aid box I mean a small Tupperware container, inside of which is a packet Tesco Value plasters, a tube of Savlon, and some out-of-date Anusol left over from Mrs Canavan’s last pregnancy). As I lumbered in, blood all over my arms, mouth and T-shirt, Mrs Canavan and her friends went quiet – a rare feat indeed, which demonstrates the shocking severity of my injuries.

‘What the hell’s happened?’ asked one.

For a moment I was tempted to make up a lengthy story involving an elderly lady, possibly pushing a new-born grandchild in a pram, being assailed by a gang of six violent and muscular youths. Naturally, and ignoring the danger to oneself, I’d stepped in to help and in the process of trying to secure the frail and vulnerable pensioner’s safety, got punched in the face by the biggest of all the thugs, the one wielding knuckledusters and with a tattoo of Satan on his left bicep. However, I’d chased the gang away before returning to walk the shaken lady back to her sheltered accommodation, cooking her a casserole and waving farewell, shouting over my shoulder, ‘no need to thank me, all in a day’s work’.

But my mouth was so busted I couldn’t speak for that long, so instead explained I’d just opened a car door into my face.

I didn’t quite receive the sympathy I’d hoped for as this prompted an outburst of laughter, though one kind soul – who has now been written into my will – did fetch some kitchen roll, run it under the tap and held it over my busted lip (though this gesture was slightly undermined by the fact she then whipped out her phone, took a photo, and said, ‘I’ve got to get this on Facebook – no one will believe how stupid you’ve been’).

While the women quickly lost interest and returned to talking about something on Netflix, I trooped quietly upstairs, took paracetamol to ease the pain, and went to sleep quietly sobbing.

Five days on, I have a deep cut from lip to nose and a swollen face.

However, I’ve regained the ability to talk, so if anyone asks what happens, I can at least tell them the old lady story.

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