Mum had this pithy way with folk with a recurring ailment.
To my pal, who’d a hacking hoast most of her life, after a particularly enthusiastic bout of coughing, here’s her: “Aye, Jenny. Ye’ve aye had a chest.” To her darling daughter, it was: “Like me wi’ ma bowels, you hiv tae live wi’ yer knees.”
They have indeed been the bane of my 75 years, starting as a young ‘un in Culter. Every day, I’d scamper doon steep Malcolm Road to meet my dad leaving The Mill, never reaching his bosie unscathed. Mo almost permanently plastered over wounds from clattering to the tarmac, mum reckoned something was wrong with my leggies, only for the GP to enlighten her I was – clumsy.
Around 12 or 13, after constant knee pain, X-rayed and prodding at ARI, diagnosed with rampant hormones and growing pains. Since then, I’ve aye been a bit o’ a martyr to my patellas. Never happy kneeling for more that a few minties. On red alert every time there’s the merest twinge. Tell the truth, I quite expected to be fitted with new eens by the time I was 40.
However, as al’ age and my girth have increased, these ffflippin’ joints have started to plague me again. Not with pain – they just dinna work. Dinna take my weight, which is, efter a’, the whole point in havin’ them.
If I’m sittin’ doon, I need my arms to hoik me up to my feet. Getting into and, particularly, out of a car is a major manoeuvre, much easier if I can enter bum-first, exit bum-last, swivelling in between. (Sounds like a tricky step from Strictly. )
If I have to hit the floor for anything, the only way oot is to haul masellie up by my arms, pushing on something solid. Spik aboot Wreck of the Hesperus.
Gammie knees laid bare to the world
That’s a’ liveable within the privacy of my hoosie. But, last week, my gammie knees were laid bare to the world (AKA the top of Union Street.)
Poorin’ rain, in long queue for the bussie. Poked my pass into the wee shelf; sod it, slithered aff and hit the deck. I bent doon to pick it up and – nightmare – my knees buckled. Doon I went on both of them, obviously startling all of the number 13 passengers, not to mention the increasingly rain-soaked queue behind me.
Jobbie was… how could I get up again? Needed props for my arms to heave masellie. Unable to move, sez me to no one in particular: “I’m sorry. I’m nae very good on my knees.” (Ye gods. Fit a gype!)
If only Arnold Schwarzenegger had been in the queue behind me to wheech me up into his muscled arms and set me on my feet. Sadly, the wifies behind me looked as ancient as me – though obviously better on their pins.
Clinging onto the front of the driver’s partition, I managed to heave masellie up – embarrassed to the tips of my clinging white fingertips. Then the humiliation of facing the rest of the bus to get a seat – like Moses parting the ocean, so mony makkin’ a space for this decrepit wifie. Spik aboot black affronted. But bless the driver who, as I eventually heaved up to his level, said: “I ken how you feel.”
Moreen Simpson is a former assistant editor of the Evening Express and The Press and Journal, and started her journalism career in 1970