March 8th, 2006: With Night Perfect ready to pop at any moment and give birth to our son (known affectionately by the fans as Torak the Slayer because Nigh’s gall bladder disease made it feel like he was poking her in the side with a sword), I decided upon more stupid injuries: a fan favorite. Why is it that people like to laugh at other people’s misery? Because it’s funny.
Two weeks ago, I vowed that last week’s column would be a doozy. And it was, let me tell you. But the dog ate it.
Now I am nothing if not unprepared. I was going to write about my trip to Los Angeles and then to Vancouver but I am so knackered (tired) having just arrived home after two weeks of traveling that I have decided we will do another Stupid Injuries article this week and I will spill the beans about all of the LA madness next week.
Frankly, there is so much going on in my life right now that my head is spinning, so I have decided to pass my dizziness on to you, the consumer. In practical terms, this means you all get to laugh and point at how mind-numbingly stupid one comic book writer can be as we continue with another in our occasional series…
My Ten Most Stupid Injuries (Part Two)
Number Eight – “Paul Jenkins is a Stupid Bloody Idiot (otherwise known as Football).”
I don’t even know where to begin. Yes I do: at the beginning.
It all began when I was wee chappie playing happily in the yard with my big brother, Richard. I was four. He was better than me at football (that’s “soccer” to you Colonial types): hardly surprising, really, considering he was seven. I remember this one time he stole the ball from the great Jarzinho at midfield, rounded the Doberman with a pretty nifty move, feinted out the keeper (a tree) and booted the ball through a window. I remember he blamed me.
I remember my Dad telling me to speak when I was spoken to and to wash my mouth out with soap, which when you think about it was a pretty bizarre reaction to a broken window. Being the gullible type, I went upstairs and dutifully filled my mouth with shampoo. I remember looking out of the window and seeing Richard in the back garden, still bouncing the ball, waiting for me to come back down so he could do it all over again.
On that fateful day, the King of the Idiots was crowned: football had taken a piece of me and I would never rest until I brought the fucking game to its knees.
From that day forth, I vowed to use my soccer skills to bring my evil brother to justice–it was kind of like Batman with studded boots. I was going to practice and practice until one day I too could break a window with a perfectly aimed shot and blame it on my hapless brother, who would be standing in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time. At that point, Crystal Palace Football Club would naturally spot my potential and bring me in as the youngest center forward in British history. I would be signed up to play in the World Cup against the All Universe Eleven (Jesus at center forward, Aristotle at left back) and score a hat trick in the dying seconds of the final. After that, my plans were a little hazy–I’m pretty sure an eccentric billionaire was going to give me twelve million pounds and I was going to invent a time machine. Oh, and Paula Scrivens was going to show me her knickers.
My rotten brother had other ideas: he gave up sport for magic mushrooms when he was about twelve. If he was ever in the back garden from that point on it was normally in a state of catatonia. No one would ever blame him for breaking a window. In fact, no one would ever blame him for tying his own shoelaces. I decided to soldier on regardless.
I got my first big break at the age of thirteen: the break in question was my nose, hitting the forehead of my best mate, Sangiv Patel. He was a little dude but he had a hard head. To get me back for denting his forehead with my soft tissue he threw a cricket ball at my face later that summer. Little did I know this was to be the beginning of a pattern that would last a lifetime.
A couple of years later I fractured my shin. It hurt like the Dickens. (I don’t know why people say that. I can only assume that before he wrote Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens was a midfielder.)
When I was twenty-two, I broke my ankle. Doctor Johnson inserted a screw. Some years later I broke the same ankle and bent the screw. Doctor Johnson was a little disappointed in me because that was a pretty nice screw.
But as the years went by, I began to notice something strange happening: I could not go six months without a football injury, and yet I continued to play. Some would call me stubborn, others would call me crazy and still others (usually orthopedic surgeons) would encourage me to keep going.
I broke ribs, I fractured arms, I broke toes and I rendered myself unconscious frequently. I had found a purpose.
On one occasion, I fractured my ribs for, like, the third or fourth time in my career when I got sandwiched between two mutant aliens while the ball was in play about forty yards away. At least, I remember them as mutant aliens, and frankly, I don’t know why they were allowed on the field to begin with. Doctor Johnson clucked and fussed and told me not to play for a few months. I went to watch my mates play the following week, to give them all the bad news. For some reason, we were only able to field ten players that week. Four hours later I found myself back in the Emergency Room (yes, I played) and who should be on duty but Doctor Johnson. He yelled at me.
Now the last thing you should ever do to an Idiot is encourage him by telling him he is stupid. That is the whole point. Of course I’m stupid. If I were sane I wouldn’t play football, would I? And so I kept playing and I kept my daydream alive. Paula Scrivens was now in her thirties. I didn’t care. I was going to see her knickers.
Then I broke my neck.
Those of you familiar with my Spidey run will remember a character called Fusion who persuades Peter Parker that he has fractured his neck. Much of that was about my experience with a pretty severe and life-changing injury. I went through a dark period in my life: I gradually got to a point where my vertigo was so bad that I could not walk unaided and had to sleep in a bathtub. The one thing that kept me sane was sheer bloody stubbornness because I was going to play again.
Three years later I moved to Atlanta. The dizziness was improving, and so with my new doctor’s blessing I went out to play for a local team. I played for five minutes and shattered my left ankle (and if you search the internet, you will find a picture of that somewhere).
Two days after the cast came off I played on the right wing in the final game of the season. Bollocks to injury, bollocks to pain, I thought–if you fall off a horse, you get back on. If you fall off repeatedly, you shoot the horse.
Eight or nine months later I ran through a large divot while trying to win a ball from a defender. At least, most of me ran through the divot–my right leg stayed behind in the hole and I tore up my knee, snapping most of the ligaments in half. That injury–and I am not exaggerating –was about as ugly as the famous Joe Theismann leg snapper of the early Eighties. It did not help that Nigh Perfect was standing directly behind me when my kneecap came flying out the side of my leg–she seemed discouraged as we made our way to the hospital.
Since that day roughly four years ago I have had five surgeries on my knee. I have had the LCL tied into my bone with a screw. I have had two staph infections, one of which almost cost me my right leg. I have had ligaments repaired and the meniscus folded back and the ACL tied and retied. About a month ago, the bastard snapped again. And you know what I say to all of that?
I say I bloody well taught my brother a lesson, didn’t I?