Freak accidents are hard to predict. I have sat in A&E beside a six-year-old with his head firmly wedged into a pan and I remember when a near-neighbour had to be released from a toilet seat by a squad of burly firefighters. No, these unfortunate incidents were not laughing matters. Not until much later anyway.
The members of One Direction deciding they want to take at least a year off because they are sick and tired of pretending to like each other is not “the freak accident I will not get over”, as one young devotee claimed. What happened to me last week was. We had workmen in and, as usual, the four-legged member of this family would hear the front door and rush down the stairs barking furiously to announce their arrival each and every time. It got a bit much because workmen have to be in and out.
Filling a squeezy washing up bottle with water, I got it ready in my office upstairs. Then, when Hector heard someone come in, he leapt up and headed off down the stairs, barking loudly. I quickly followed and fired the water cannon. Then I realised the workman was already coming up the stairs and the poor cove was suddenly greeted with a jet of water right in the kisser. There just aren’t enough ways to say sorry in that situation.
Chris Murray, with 10 toes intact, at Buckingham Palace
Not all freak accidents are painless though. Spare a thought for a friend of mine who suffered a horrific and painful freak accident at the end of last week. You could call it an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction but it had more dire consequences than anything that may have been inadvertently shown to us by famous flashers like Judy Finnegan or Janet Jackson.
The gentleman concerned is now hobbling around in agony after breaking his own wee toe. Ubhag. You probably know that when you head west and cross the Minch the word ouch becomes ubhag. It was how he did it that has raised a few eyebrows. Knowing how sensitive are the sweet readers of this publication, I’ll be brief. That’s a clue, by the way. Well, you see it was like this; he was pulling on a garment and it got caught on the little toe of his right foot.
He must have forgotten he was barefoot and gave it a good old tug to release the undergarment. It’s not for nothing he is known as Balach Mòr or Big Boy. When he gives something a tug it is well and truly yanked. Unfortunately, as he did that he heard a loud crack. Ubhag, ubhag, ubhag.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Mr Chris Murray, holder of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for heroism as a winchman on the coastguard rescue helicopter, managed to break his teensi-weensie pinkie toe with the most fearsome of dangerous implements – a pair of his own underpants.
Should you meet the Dornoch-born winchman, who is nowadays training other novice danglers on the wire, hobbling along and he happens to mumble something about stubbing his toe or going over on his ankle, it is all nonsense. He is too embarrassed about the truth. He was disabled by his drawers. ‘Twas the pants wot done it.
All of which gives Chris a bit of a problem. He spent more than 20 years battling through storms to rescue many people, being flung against the sides of large ships and was even caught by an enormous wave and washed overboard off the deck of a crippled ship himself. Many times he returned after arduous missions and I saw him wincing with a painful leg after a particularly bruising rescue. Just an occupational hazard.
Chris and his colleagues were summoned to Buckingham Palace some years ago to have a rack of medals pinned onto them for saving the lives of some of the crew of a sunken German ship way out in the Atlantic. So, for us islanders, if we see Chris limping along Cromwell Street we expect the injury to have been caused by something that was agonising, something that would make ordinary mortals weep, and perhaps something to make Her Majesty reach in the medal drawers again.
Sorry Chris, didn’t mean to mention drawers again.
As an ex-military man himself, Chris appreciates that underwear can be a challenge in the field. When I was on RAF basic training in Sherwood Forest, problems with transport meant our two-day stay became four. We weren’t prepared. On day three, the Flight Sergeant announced: “Today we’re going to change our underwear.” We all began to clap and cheer. Then he continued: “Smith, you change with Blenkinsop. Maciver, you change with O’Hara …”