Nan’s body was pinned against the living room wall, impaled.
Amongst the carnage that had just happened, she appeared to be motionless.
What had I done?
The following happened 15 years ago – 2002. Will Young wanted to make everything Evergreen and Enrique Iglesias was telling you that he was your Hero (baby.)
In 2002, you may have been lucky enough to have your own mobile phone. The trouble being it would too big to remove from your pocket, and you’d communicate in the dreaded style of txt spk 2 communic8 wif ppl. You could even get Enrique’s Hero as a polyphonic ringtone.
£3.50 well spent.
Elsewhere in 2002, Josh Harnett was having a very tough 40 Days and 40 Nights, there were rumours Dirty Den was returning from his watery canal in EastEnders, and the less said about Las Ketchup the better.
Meanwhile, one spring day in the surprisingly-sheepless Welsh town of Brynmawr (the town where I met my first girlfriend), there was an incident involving my grandmother.
Affectionately known as Nan, her house smelt of pets and cigarettes. The swirl of cigarette smoke had tinged the white walls with a sad shade of yellow. My younger self didn’t mind, as I was appeased by the continuous supply of fruit juice and an ample amount of biscuits that I failed to notice the bad living conditions. I felt like the little prince on my visits.
Nan was having a spring clean. Included in this clean was a 1960’s childrens wardrobe, decorated with a horse sticker. It was a cumbersome and difficult piece of badly designed vintage furniture designed during the cold war. Not quite Ikea, more no idea.
This wooden beast was white, with brown ridged décor and a slide door that didn’t even open. You would have to use your entire body weight to push the door across.
Strength wasn’t my younger self’s strong point, as you will later discover. I had arms that resembled pork twigs at this point, with my stepfather saying that I had ‘more fat on a chip.’ Other comparisons of my appearance included a stretched Mike Teevee from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Nan wanted the wardrobe taken downstairs, in case some children wanted it. Nan. It was 2002. They wanted Bob the Builder or GTA: Vice City. This thing would probably be better used as firewood.
So instead of taking the wardrobe into different pieces, she wanted the whole thing together taken down the stairs. Nothing can go wrong. Right?
Nan explained she’d go at the front and I’d grip and hold onto it from the back.
We’d go down one step at a time. It made the ‘To Me, To You’ plans devised by the Chuckle Brothers seem almost ingenious.
We had managed to slide the wardrobe from the bedroom and got into our respective positions at the top of the stairs. I heard her muffle from the other side of the wardrobe.
“Okay Rupert. Nice and slow, one step at a time”.
Nan moved one step down as we held onto it. Then gravity happened.
The wardrobe leaned sharply forward down the stairs, aiming for the living room. The huge vintage wooden mass was suddenly descending dramatically downward.
I tried to grip on to it, desperately. I was too weak, and the wardrobe now had a devilish mind of it’s own.
Everything was now in slow motion.
I fumbled with my hands to try and grab on to some part of it.
I desperately aimed to grab an edge, but all I caught was thin air.
I watched with sheer horror as the wardrobe flew down the stairs, with my Nan going down with it.
An almighty crash followed.
The wardrobe had chased her down the stairs and pinned her against the wall at the bottom of the living room. The edge had pierced her chest. Blood had started coming out of her mouth, splattering against her cardigan. Her eyes were closed, her skin had gone a ghostly pale.
I genuinely thought she was dead.
It felt like time had stopped.
The wardrobe had blocked the end of the stairs. With adrenaline pumping through my veins, I had developed the agility to do a parkour move, my boy body flying over the bannister.
I didn’t know what to do. They don’t train you how to do deal with wardrobe collisions at Scouts. (Not that I ever went.)
I wanted to move it, but I was worried more damage would be caused to an already fragile situation. She was crushed after flying down 13 steps.
My brain was numb with erratic thinking. I panicked. My heart thumped in my chest.
I rushed to the back door, opened my lungs and shouted TERRRRYYY to the next door neighbour. I couldn’t tell if he had even heard me.
I then phoned up my Uncle. I grabbed the bricky Nokia off the table. I spoke with an exasperated, rapid tone, my voice lost in panic.
He thought it was a prank call. I wasn’t winning.
I then dialed 999 for the first time in my life, and they tried to calm me down and make sense of things.
I was pacing the living room. I then heard a sputter wheeze out from the stairs.
Nan had came back to life with a stir.
I felt a shot of relief. Her eyes half closed, she began to mutter something under her breath but it was incomprehensible. She looked delirious, drifting out of consciousness.
I then heard the door handle open. Terry the neighbour, a man shaped like a bear, appeared in the doorway, looking at us in horror. He rushed over and managed to move the remains of the wardrobe off of her. He took her in his arms and rested her on the sofa. She was more shocked than anything, and miraculously, seemed to be relatively unscathed.
The ambulance soon followed, the nee-naws and blue lights overwhelming the small town with the most excitement its seen in decades. My Nan refused to go with them at first as it wasn’t important, despite her flying down the stairs and getting punctured by a 5 foot heavy wardrobe.
She was more concerned about the bacon on the grill she had left to cook on a low heat.
Eventually we managed to persuade her to get checked herself out at the hospital. It turned out she was fine. I imagined she was warned that a 74 year old and a boy were not the best candidates for taking furniture down steep steps.
I can’t remember what happened to the wardrobe, I don’t think it left the house in one piece. I never feel comfortable taking awkward and cumbersome objects up the stairs anymore, I’m probably slightly mentally scarred!
Whenever I brought up the story of the wardrobe incident around Nan, she’d quickly change the subject. Drifting back to her monthly copy of Puzzler magazine, she would ingest some Jaffa Cakes and pretend the whole thing never happened.
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