Saturday 25 April 2015

The Tales We Keep Telling, 12: The Short Arm

This story dates from when I lived in a shared house in the west of Newcastle. One summer afternoon, we held a barbecue, and all the housemates invited their friends. One of my housemates' friends, who helped me do the salad, had a short arm, ending just after the elbow joint.

I thanked her for helping chop the veg, and she grinned and said: "Yes, but I have to be careful when I do that... I once nearly made someone faint in A&E."

"How did that happen?"

"You see this scar on my arm?"

She held up the end of her arm, which had a neat white line near the end.

"That looks nasty."


The story was that she had been chopping peppers one evening whilst starting to cook dinner. Her method was to pin down the pepper with the end of her short arm, and hold the knife and chop with her hand. Unfortunately, one of her housemates came in the kitchen behind her and let the door slam. She jumped, the knife slipped, and she cut herself across the end of the arm.

The cut was in an awkward place and wouldn't stop bleeding, so in the end she bundled a tea towel around the end of her arm, and went to A&E for stitches. This was a weekend, so it was a busy night, and she was sat there for a while.

Next to her was a guy who was possibly the worse for wear. She noticed him staring at with a faint expression of horror.

"What happened?" he eventually asked, with a faint tone of dread.

"Oh, I cut myself with a big knife."

The drunk paled and started to look woozy. "Did you find it, like?"

My housemate's friend followed his gaze to the bloodstained tea towel at the end of her short arm, and suddenly realised what he was thinking.

"No, it's okay! My arm has always been this length!"

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