The builder boyfriend fell off a roof. He didn’t tell me until he could no longer leave unexplained why he was staggering about the house groaning, crawling up the annoyingly steep cottage stairs we have not been able to alter, and sleeping on the floor beside the bed clutching a packet of anti-inflammatories, as the spaniels slept happily in his space.
His shoulder must be bad, because he allowed me to place an ice pack on it. For him, this was a humiliating foray into the realms of ‘making a fuss’, the sort of thing he fears a bearded hipster might do.
The builder boyfriend likes to think he is invincible. And while he claims he would be happy to go, he says this is unlikely as he has it on good authority that he is going to live for a very long time. ‘You better had,’ I always tell him, ‘because you’ve got to look after me until further notice, remember.’
The last time he injured himself, he didn’t admit anything until months later, and only then because he had to explain why he had gone deaf.
He failed to tell me that he had sustained a concussion when a garage door swung on top of him and knocked him out. Not only that, when he came to a few seconds later and staggered back to his feet, the garage door swung back the other way and knocked him out again.
Having been knocked unconscious twice in the space of a minute, you would have thought he would have had the sense to go to a hospital. But no. That would be making a fuss.
He simply went home, ate his dinner in silence, then said he was going to bed early. The next day, he complained of a headache and took one aspirin, making a disgusted face when it was explained he might need two.
Months later, at the dinner table, when he was more than usually ignoring everything I said, he explained that he couldn’t hear out of one ear, so would I please talk at his other side. When I told him he needed to see a doctor, maybe get a scan, he said: ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’
You can’t argue with him. He once had a horse that pulled him all the way down the Horsley Road in Cobham on the end of a lunge rope, breaking most of his fingers. The creature had an aversion to farriers, so when the blacksmith arrived it went bananas and broke out of its stable. As the BB tried to hold on to it, this demented cob dragged him more than a mile causing traffic chaos. The vet had to be called to sedate it. When all was said and done, the vet had stabbed himself with a syringe full of ketamine to dull the pain of the horse trampling him and the builder b was left with several fingers pointing in the wrong directions.
He claims he didn’t even notice until later. When I proposed that evening that he let me strap his fingers together — pointless suggesting A&E — he said: ‘Oh no. Ridiculous.’ He would have been more enthusiastic if I had suggested getting the broken ones out of the way by chopping them off.
Consequently, the top joint of the middle finger of one hand turns inwards at a jaunty right-angle which he insists doesn’t bother him.
It was probably because of this wonky finger — and the slight deafness — that he lost his balance and fell off the side slope of a roof.
His shoulder feels like a knife is sticking into it, he says. Naturally he will not be enlisting the services of a medical professional.
His answer is to chew Naproxen (without the stomach protector tablets I try to make him take because: ‘Protector what? Oh no. Ridiculous.’). He comes home covered in dust and dirt, groaning in agony, and gets into a bath so hot I cannot understand how he isn’t parboiled after ten minutes.
He lies in this simmering bath for more than an hour, topping it up with steaming water until his skin is deep pink. I have no idea how his skin is still on.
He says it is the only way to dull the aches and pains in his body. ‘Have you thought of a life on benefits?’ I asked him. ‘Because there are people on long-term incapacity whose bodies are not a fraction as busted as yours.’ Right now I think he’d fly through the tough new assessment designed to weed out all but the most pitifully unfit to work.
‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ He insists he will work until they put him in his box, which is not happening for a very long time, he says, and maybe not even then.