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Spanish Secrets: A Lucky Break

…After a few minutes I rose cautiously to my feet. With the exception of my big toe, everything seemed in one piece. The following day I was black, blue and a rather regal shade of purple. My arms were cut and grazed, my back hurt, my ribs ached, my right hip was sore and my right foot so swollen footwear was out of the question…

Poor Craig Briggs takes a tumble and is now heading into a colourful Christmas of the unwelcomed kind. However his keen sense of humour will guanatee that he still enjoys the festive season.

Over the past few years, the nearby town of Monforte de Lemos has undergone a minor facelift. The river Cabe, which runs through the town centre, has been straightened and widened. A scenic footpath now runs along each side of the landscaped riverbanks.

There’s a new public carpark and improved pavements sporting thick-granite paving slabs. Spaced along these pedestrian highways at 20 meter intervals are circular insets containing spindly-thin blossoming trees. In spring and early summer they provide a splash of natural colour to this urban environment.

Some of the improvements have come at a cost. Not financial – I’m sure we can thank British taxpayers for the EU grant money. In this instance, the cost of wider pavements is narrower roads and increased traffic congestion.

Alterations to traffic-flow and the addition of a miniature roundabout have done nothing to improve the situation. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the roundabout was sited to cause maximum chaos. The saying, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” springs to mind.

It’s a saying that could easily have originated here in Galicia. Collaborating evidence for this suggestion can be found all over the surrounding countryside.
Decaying boundary walls, rusting bed-frames used to secure field entrances and 1940’s tractors dragging 1930’s farm equipment. Perhaps most conspicuous are the crumbling rural houses. Damp-stained walls, flaking paintwork and broken terracotta roof-tiles all point towards willing neglect.

Public works are one thing but, unlike the Brits, the Spanish haven’t quite grasped the concept of DIY. When essential work is unavoidable, they’re far happier having a tradesman undertake it. And who’s to say they’re wrong?

Every year in the UK there are 3,000 to 4,000 serious accidents involving ladders. 50 of these prove fatal – quite a sobering thought.

The main cause of these accidents is ladder slip - erecting the ladders at too low an angle. The higher the worker climbs, the more likely the ladder will slip backwards. The result is an entangled mass of man and ladder lying prostrate on the ground. In the most extreme cases this results in death or serious injury. In less severe cases it simply hurts. A lot!

How might I know these useful facts and figures?

They say pride comes before a fall. In my case it was careless stupidity and erecting my ladders at too low an angle. One moment was confidently working away at the top of the ladders. The next, I was laying on the floor on top of them.

I screamed out in agony as a piercing pain shot down my spine. Instinctively I hauled myself onto my hands and knees. Melanie came rushing to my aid. I curled into the foetal position struggling to breathe. My heart was pounding as if eager to break through my ribcage and the colour drained from my skin.

After a few minutes I rose cautiously to my feet. With the exception of my big toe, everything seemed in one piece. The following day I was black, blue and a rather regal shade of purple. My arms were cut and grazed, my back hurt, my ribs ached, my right hip was sore and my right foot so swollen footwear was out of the question.

Physical injures are one thing - pride takes a little longer to heal.

Currently I’m convalescing on both fronts.

email address
craigandmel@msn.com

Copyright © 2006 Craig Briggs

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