With each passing day it becomes more and more obvious to me that I will not become famous. This does not particularly trouble me, as I have written numerous times about my desire to remain anonymous. What I do lament, however, is the lack of riches that will come along with that lack of fame. Time and time again a lottery jackpot is won and I have to throw down my ticket in anger as the numbers on my printed pink sheet do not match the numbers drawn from Camelot or whatever the European equivalent is—La Camélot, I presume. (Actually, I think the Euromillions headquarters is in Helsinki. I know a Finnish woman, I’ve heard her speak her native tongue, there’s no way I’m attempting to reproduce that garbled nonsense for a laugh nobody is going to read.)
This lack of fame also means that my many anecdotes about my wonderful, fascinating, adventure-filled life will never know renown as the highlights of ‘Lovatt: an Autobiography in Fourteen Volumes’. That’s one volume each for my lovers, and thirteen for my hate-filled rhetoric against those whom have wronged me. As the stories will not fill those pages, I will let them fill these. Up until my book on Amazon makes enough money that I can pull both that and this and reprint it one of those aforementioned volumes.
This particular story is of the time I fell out of a second floor window at a house party. I call it:
The Time I Accidentally Defenestrated Myself by Falling Out of a Second Floor Window at a House Party.
I was fifteen at the time, in the final year of high school. Some readers from across the globe might consider this young for a house party and defenestration but remember this: I am English, I live in England, and we English are nothing if not drunkards from a young age. Walk down the city centre of Manchester, Newcastle, Romford and look at the twenty- and thirty-somethings doing likewise. They learnt that from somewhere, and the ‘somewhere’ they learned it was at house parties as kids.
By this point there had been several house parties among our small squadron of friends. Two had taken place at the house of L—, because he is a self-confessed socialist, and when his house was free, his house became our house. These were rather uneventful in terms of major injuries, not least because he lived in a bungalow with quite a big garden so the house-related injuries were reduced dramatically. Another had taken place at the house of K—, whose house was three storeys high, but she lived in a rather rough area and as such the windows, while not barred in the way you see American ghettos on film, still had barriers preventing entry, from inside and out. (As an aside, this party at K— might get its own attention as I now remember it was a Hallowe’en fancy dress party and my costume was creative in a way I have never been since.)
With our parties, particularly safe, then, when M—, a girl with whom I did not have that close of a relationship but who was in our circle of friends, announced her house was free, it went without saying that this meant a party would have to happen. We planned it, got our parents to buy us alcohol (because, once again, we English learn it somewhere) and on the night we went to our party.
M—’s house was built on a hill with a heavy slope, and was inverted, with the front and back doors and bedrooms on the ground floor and the living area—the living room, the kitchen, the toilets—on the upper floor.
The night went the same way as any with fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds drinking: we drank, we drank lots and we drank fast. Some people paired off. R—, the devil with the gift we all wish to possess, tripled off. As for me, I could not take part. Well, I could have, but that would have been what we call ‘cheating’. I was with a D— at the time. Double Ds, really, if I were the crude type. In lieu of taking part in that, I went to the toilet. I cannot quite remember what I was drinking that night. Around that age I had an interest in Disaronno Originale, but even as a beginner drinker, I don’t think that had the necessary alcoholic content to make me lose my senses. We were all most likely mixing at that point. Anyway, I went to the toilet, locked the door and ‘broke the seal’.
By that, I mean I broke the lock of the door. It was one of those sliding ones with the small cylindrical bolt that fastens the door to the frame and has a tiny knob on which you pull to open it again.
Somehow, in that drunken phase, I knocked the knob out of its slot and I could not see where it landed. My vision was bad (I needed glasses at the time but refused to go the opticians to sort that out), my senses were dulled, my motor skills were impaired and all sense was gone.
A sober person—or simply a smarter person—would have in that moment called for help. The toilet was directly next to the living room, the one in which a bunch of drunk teens were rucking like Catholic rabbits. Someone would have heard me, I have no doubt. But I didn’t think to do that. After running my hands on the floor for a short while I thought myself trapped. Still I didn’t call for someone. Still I didn’t make an attempt to phone someone. Or even attempt to craft a makeshift knob like a drunk teenager MacGyver. There were at least two women who lived in that house, there was most likely some kind of hairpin or tweezers or something else small that could latch into the door.
Instead, the drunk me looked around, saw the window and decided that climbing out of it was the best idea.
I wasn’t completely stupid, of course. First I opened the window and peered outside. If it had been a straight drop down I might have reconsidered and made myself content to die in my toilet tomb. But there was a balcony of sorts, or a small roof protruding from under the window. It was sloped but I thought to myself that if I eased myself out of the window onto the roof I could slide down it, land in the garden and then walk through the backdoor as if nothing had happened. The locked door was not an issue that played out in my mind. In people’s drunken states I assume nobody was going to look at a locked door and think ‘this is locked from the inside’. And besides, in a few minutes I would be outside the door. If anybody witnessed me going in, I could use the quite reasonable defense of: ‘yes, I did go inside, but now, as you can see, I am outside. Whoever is inside there is not me. Stop casting accusing glances at me’.
I unlatched the window, raised myself up on the windowsill and began climbing out. The window was smaller than expected, and it was higher too. I struggled for a bit before getting my head, arms and upper body through the window. Now it was a small case of edging myself forward, lowering myself down to the roof and returning to the party as if I had never been away.
I felt a tug stop me.
It was not the door broken down and somebody pulling me back in to the room. It was the latch of the window. It had caught on my t-shirt. I was fond of baggy clothes back then, the slave to fashion that I was and am. I hadn’t thought of tucking in my clothes to stop me catching and now I was caught. There I was, half-in, half-out, like the UK for the better part of the last three years. I couldn’t advance or retreat: the pegged cloth was keeping me from lowering, and too much of my body was out to push myself back. I had to lift myself to move forward. I did just that. Pushing my legs, I managed to raise my stomach and lift the caught piece of fabric off the latch.
The next moment I felt a kind of weightlessness. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened, but I knew that instead of landing onto the roof with the grace of a Russian gymnast, I was sliding down it with all the speed and grace of Nodar Kumaritashvili. Somehow, via divine intervention or momentum, despite hurtling headfirst towards the ground, I ended up flipping in midair. One moment I was facing the ground, going far too fast to acknowledge that my head would be the first thing to impact the grass and whatever was underneath. The next, I was staring at the evening sky wondering why the only thing that hurt was my ankles. I was able to stand, which was good as meant I hadn’t broken anything—or at least not broken anything that prevented me from moving. I went back to the living room where everybody was still involved in their own business. One person noticed I was gone and asked where I was. ‘Oh, just outside, getting some air,’ I replied.
I made an excuse. I pretended I was compassionate and said I felt bad that my girlfriend was alone taking care of her brother while her boyfriend and friends were having fun in each other’s company. I made my best attempt at masking the pain in my feet until I was out of sight and hobbled my way to her house.
I did not get away with my crimes. Like the narcissist I am who thinks he deserves fame and riches and biographies, who writes out a story a decade later because he thinks it still worth telling, I told someone. I told my best friend, thinking some form of loyalty and secrecy would keep the story with him until his dying days. Given he was a huge drinker even then, I thought those days would not be too far away. But no—he found the story hilarious so promptly told everybody around us. Including M—. Only R— found the story. The rest scolded me for my utter disregard for other people’s homes and properties. I was barred from the next few parties. My punishment was unjust but I did not appeal it. At the very least, I didn’t have to pay to get the door fixed, though I did hear that they had to remove it from its hinges because of me. My ankles were punishment enough. I did not get them checked. My parents called it karma in a way, that it was what I deserved for making a stupid decision.
I had to withdraw from the school’s athletics team because of that. I was a 200m runner in my own right and the second leg in the 4 x 100m relay team. What could have been if I was fit and we won. Perhaps it would have been I leading the nation to glory on Super Saturday.