Life, Living, Becoming...
Gerry Coughlan


One day in the garden at the family house in Collins Avenue we all played Blind Man's Buff. My sister was there, a few cousins and the neighbour's kids.

It was my turn to be on. The blindfold was placed. All the tests to make sure I couldn't see were carried out to everyone's satisfaction. You remember, throwing a punch and stopping inches from the eyes to see if he'd flinch. They had to be kiddin'. The blood flow to my brain was severely restricted. All I could see was a couple of millimetres of grass if I tried really hard to look down past my nose. A couple of turns to disorientate me and the game was on.

Jeering and shouting came from all directions. I headed down towards the gate where there was space for one car to park off the street. I didn't stand a chance. WHACK! Whoever it was slammed the metal gate into my head to halt my progress. SPURT! there was blood everywhere. An egg or was it a tennis ball sprouted on my forehead in a matter of seconds. My sister wasn't allowed to come to the hospital and a shouting match broke out between her and my Aunt.

I got 4 stitches at Temple Street Hospital. Memories of the dentist resurfaced when they put a surgical green cloth over my face to do the stitches. But the nurse was either too sweet or didn't take any nonsense. I can't remember which but it was finished in no time.

The day before my sister made her Confirmation I got on my bike to run an errand to my Auntie's. It was a trip I did regularly and only a couple of miles. I was going like the clappers, cutting corners, riding up and down pavements without stopping. I was a scrambler doing motocross. I dashed right across the road. There was no traffic coming. I aimed for a slopey part where a car could go into a house but it had a bit of a lip. I didn't take it straight enough and the front wheel hit, froze and I was catapulted over the handle bars and landed in a heap right on top of my arm.
AAARRGGHH! Bleedin' Kerb! I swore, fighting back the tears.
It didn't feel too good and another visit to the Casulty room confirmed the break. It was in plaster for 6 weeks and got covered in all manner of slogans and signatures.

The bike wasn't much better and after trying to ride it one armed for a few yards with the wheel rubbing against the front fork, I gave up and walked the rest of the way to my Aunties.

My mom told me that I actually got home and ran up the stairs and only when my sister came down and said "Ger's hurt his arm" did the family spring into action.

The next day at my sister's Confo (Confirmation), I was the one being made a fuss of, with my arm in a sling and the arm of my new cardigan hanging in the breeze.

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