My mother tells me I was that child that climbed onto the knees of strangers.
If I was in a doctor's waiting room for example, I would pick up a book and climb aboard, obviously assuming that everyone was a) willing to read to this precocious child and b) could do all the voices. My father had spoiled me for choice reading all the Enid Blyton or Noddy and Big Ears books in a range of different voicings from squeaky to very gruff. It was a fantastical way to enter your own dreamtime.
Knees, I discovered, were good places to be even if someone just read to you in a regular voice or simply gave you a hug.
I would kneel on mine every night, eyes squeezed shut, hands clasped in prayer position fervently asking for a horse. I always asked for a horse, but those particular prayers were never answered. If they had been, no one would have been more stupefied than me. Just where on our suburban block was I supposed to keep one?
I still pray occasionally, but it is mainly for a car park or a green light or to be on time. That make-a-wish horse variety galloped away long ago.
As a child, my knees were of the scabby, knobbly variety. Permanently coated in acriflavine lotion or a band aid, they were used as brakes on the go-cart, as skis on wet grass and as useful things to bury in sand.
Needless to say, they've had a hard but productive life.
And so I arrive at the point of this whole conversation. Because over the past month or so, the old mid leg hinges have been a bit sore.
And so I hobbled into the doctor's surgery to enquire about same last week. The x-ray revealed a bit of a bony spur, but nothing suspicious or that might cause the pain that had been keeping me awake at night.
I asked the doctor what it could be. It was when he started his explanation with "Well, at your age, it could be many things" and started listing arthritis and other ailments associated with the elderly that my knees really started to tremble. Were my horse dreaming, go cart racing days really that long ago?
On the way out, I felt like crawling on someone's knee and asking for a hug and a bit of Enid Blyton. - Linda Muller
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