In which Lady Bracknell almost has an accident
Lady Bracknell may have many fine qualities, but a good sense of balance is not one of them. Her esteemed mother tells her that she was almost two years old before she could walk. There is an old photograph of a pre-school age Lady Bracknell tricycling vigorously along a pavement, but she never mastered the bicycle. Her inability to traverse an even slightly icy pavement renders her housebound and palpitating with fear in severe weather. In her blue-stocking days, she disgraced herself by being unable to keep her balance on an ice rink even when being held up by two strapping young gentlemen. Frankly, Lady Bracknell is astonished that she ever manages to remain upright.
A simple turning of the ankle therefore is all that is required to throw her ladyship off such tenuous balance as she ordinarily maintains. However, as Lady Bracknell felt her balance slip from her last night, an odd thing happened. Time appeared to slow down sufficiently for her to pursue the following logical reasoning process:
"I am going to fall, and it is going to hurt. In the direction in which I am currently toppling, there is insufficient space for me to fall flat on the floor. I will probably hit my head on that table on the way down. There is nothing for me to grab on to to break my fall. If I fling my arms out, I may well break the glass in the cabinet door. Even at my fittest, I cannot clean up glass. Once I have fallen, it is likely that I will be considerably below par in my fitness levels. I will not fall because it would be too dangerous for me to do so."
Her brain having reached that conclusion, Lady Bracknell's body suddenly wrenched itself back into balance, and she did not fall. However, she is convinced that, had she been falling towards a soft landing, she would have been wholly incapable of remaining upright.
The degree of strenuous physical effort exerted to prevent herself from falling is evident today in the increased pain levels in Lady Bracknell's left ankle, leg and hip. Given the option, she would rather not put any weight on that leg for the moment. She is not, however, complaining. Had she fallen, she has absolutely no doubt that she would have been in a very considerably worse physical condition.
Nevertheless, she remains intrigued by what happened. Were her body not already so damaged, would she have had the opportunity to reflect on the possible consequences of the fall? Or would she simply have fallen? Does she possess some sort of marvellous self-protection mechanism? And, if she does, why was it so sadly absent on the day of her original injury?
Readers who feel they can offer an insight into the conundrum outlined above are warmly invited to do so via the comments facility.