Shouldering the blame

A Breaffy Man in Castlebar
Shouldering the blame for 17 years

I’m normally a very deep sleeper and it is a fair noise that will wake me in the middle of the night. But that thud couldn’t but bring me to life and if it didn’t wake the others in the room, my screaming certainly did.
We were in the middle of renovating the house to turn the garage into two bedrooms so that there’d be more bedrooms for our newly-established B&B. But, as a short-term compromise, all the McGreal family had to share the one room any night we were full in the B&B.
That meant bunk beds and a mattress on the floor to sleep myself and my two older sisters. Being the far-from-chivalrous 12-year-old that I was, I refused to sleep on the floor, insisting on taking the top bunk and relegating my then nemesis, my next eldest sister Edel, to the floor.
It wasn’t that long after she had banished me from a room because she was watching a 12 rated movie and wouldn’t let me watch it because I was 11. Such was the nature of our fractured relationship at the time.
I’m sure I thought it was karma at the time, putting her sleeping on the floor whilst I sleep soundly from my lofty pedestal. Except, it would appear, that karma was coming my way, quite literally with a bang.
Out I popped from the cot in the middle of the night, down onto the floor below and out popped my shoulder with me. My sister was lucky I didn’t drop on top of her - I wasn’t a small 12-year-old.
An emergency trip to A&E confirmed what we thought, a dislocated shoulder. Since then I’ve had a near morbid fear of top bunks. It wasn’t often an issue but during our five week trip up the east coast of Australia in 2008, hostels and bunk beds were our main source of accommodation.
In order to ‘justify’ a constant call on a bottom bunk - they were very much in demand, try climbing into a top bunk after a few Jagerbombs - I had to confess to my fall. It left me wide open to the slagging and I was always pushed up to a top bunk whenever they had security bars - or ‘Eddie bars’ as one comedian christened them.
But a trip to a physio recently revealed something bizarre. My shoulder had never been properly re-aligned since that fall 17 years ago. Long after myself and my sister had our own peace process, I was still carrying around the effects of the touch of karma, unbeknownst to myself. A trip to an osteopath in Sligo soon sorted it out. I wonder how much that shoulder held me back in a sporting sense in the intervening 17 years. If it wasn’t for that I could have been a contender. Although lack of ability, application and most other requirements probably didn’t help either.