I made two mistakes yesterday and both of them left me looking like a Victoria Plum. Firstly I managed to fall over myself while jogging along a coastal path -resulting in a grazed knee and dented pride in front of some hikers (‘no, no, I’m fine, you walk on with your rucksacks and gaiters’), and secondly I chose the wrong colour when I had my nails done; I thought I was going for a dark rose but in daylight it turns out I chose purple.
Both these blunders got me thinking that perhaps bruises are not such a bad thing after all, for they give an external indication that you’re feeling a bit tender and then offer a litmus paper change of colour to the world as you morph through purple, brown and yellow until people know you are at least physically ready to get back in the ring again. Even when the bruised knee heals, my nails can serve as an indication this month that I may be smiling but inside I may be having a little cry. They could also get me to rethink my wardrobe, but that’s a blog for another time.
In truth, my bruises and plum duff choice of nail varnish pale into a whimsical violet compared to the bashing those around me are taking at the moment. I can’t work out whether my dragonfly jar just makes me more observant of other people trying valiantly to keep beautiful wings gliding through the air, or whether I’m just a maroon magnet for other buffeted bruisees (not bruisers, although I teach plenty of those). Either way, my purple crew are humbling; they may be feeling a bit tender around the edges, but that doesn’t stop them from camouflaging the swelling and slogging on through.
I’m learning that some pains may never go away (I still battle with this), but a bit of bruised tissue does at least flag to others that a little tenderness would be appreciated, that it would be timely to find the right words (whatever these may be, for there is no recipe to follow) and to offer some sort of cushioned Elastoplast to protect the sore part until normal colouring returns. (Let’s stay positive).
Those I know who are badly bruised right now, do a grand job of providing their own Elastoplast for they seldom wish to draw attention to themselves. They usually self-medicate through purple humour and large doses of Pollyanna (see earlier blog). Unfortunately neither of these are available on the NHS.
I think it is the purple humour that reminds me how amazing people are – at least the people I know. To be prescribed morphine to ease the pain of breathing and yet still knock out some irreverant jokes about recreational drugs or even, ‘Coleridge produced ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ with the help of opium, so get me pen and paper’. To be subjected to daily radiography and yet still joke about how the personalised radiation mask will make a unique garden planter afterwards, now that takes some gumption. It feels like the role models around me will thankfully continue to stick two proverbial fingers up at the black eye life has dealt them – I might even speak to them about my purple nail varnish for this could make their victory sign look even more dramatic.
Students I work with are equally impressive. Bruised not only by two years’ of A Level and GCSE teaching, some of them are just discovering that the exam juggernaut stops for nothing – family bereavement, divorcing parents, crippling anxiety – this vehicle just keeps storming down the track; you’ll need to get your sorry emotional ‘shiner’ into that exam hall and get writing if you want a certificate in August.
Keep going these students certainly do. A student I have the privilege to teach lost his mother two months ago yet has not missed a lesson or exam, so intent is he on honouring his mother’s wish for him to ‘finish well’. He would not even take an ‘effort pen’ from me – ‘I’ve got my own pens Miss, you give that to a student who really deserves one…but if you’ve got any cake….’ Now, if he sees my purple nail varnish before the Leavers’ Prom he may be interested in that, he’s quirky enough. I’ll have a word.
Looking down at my legs this morning I can see that one knee is much bigger than the other and sports a vivid magenta scab. I think about covering it up, but in the company I am keeping, it feels like a badge of courage that should be displayed. I decide to go for a jog again to show this bruise who is boss. I wear shorts not leggings to get some air to my contusion. Miles achieved 5. Conversations about bruised knee 5. Compliments on nail varnish 2. Back in the ring and now considering a purple rinse.