The Devil is in the Dishwasher

I’m lying on the bedroom floor. I’ve been here a while. Fifteen minutes? At least.

My face is about three inches from my wife’s white sandals. The stitching is starting to fray on one of them. Behind them is a picture of Tom and Ben: the one from Christmas. It’s lovely. Why haven’t we hung it yet?

Anyway, I’d better try and get up again. There’s a chair about two yards away. That’s what I’m aiming for. Just need to roll over onto my side first…


The pain is quite remarkable.

Regular readers will be familiar with my back…

It’s gone again. And as you’ll guess from the title, I was emptying the dishwasher. As far as I can remember – and there’s not much else to do down here on the floor – that makes the dishwasher the most dangerous object in our house. This is the fourth time it’s flattened me.

Yes, I realise I shouldn’t have got down on the floor. I was doing some exercises. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anyway, the pain has died down again. Maybe if I roll the other way…


I know what you’re thinking. Why has no-one come to help? I’ll tell you why. Jane is out. Tom is away. Ben is destroying aliens, headphones on. That leaves The Beloved Daughter.

She’s in her bedroom. I know she can hear my anguished cries because she’s just told me to be quiet. She’s watching a film. I’m disturbing her.

Jessica is not ‘molto simpatico.’ Besides, she’s just found out that she’s been wandering round with a cracked rib for the last month. That’s made her even less inclined to simpatico.

So the choice is simple. Lie here or get up. But to get up I need help.

And that’s my problem…

Help means one of my children. They’re now long past the stage when they saw their Dad as a hero. They’re so long past it they won’t even remember it.

But let’s not go completely in the opposite direction. Not just yet. I may not be in my thirties but I’m too young for my children to help me off the floor.

No, I won’t yell for help. Just let me make it to the chair…


That’s that.

Help, I text. I need help.

Ben arrives two minutes later.

“You’re on the floor, Dad.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed. Go and get me, will you…” Damn it, I have to say the words. “…In the hall. My Dad’s walking stick.”

I hate that. I want to believe that women still find me attractive. Not if I need a walking stick they won’t.

“Now you hold the stick and I’ll hold the other end and pull…”


I’m back where I started. Face pressed against my wife’s sandals. From this undignified position I offer my son some fatherly advice. “Listen,” I grunt. “Whatever you do in life, take care of your back. Bend your knees. All that stuff.”

“I think I’ve worked that out, Dad.”

Inspiration strikes me. Undignified inspiration admittedly. I can crawl backwards on my hands and knees. I reach the chair.

“Now what, Dad?”

“Just pull…”

He does. I lever myself up with the stick. And somehow I make it. I’m out of breath, I’m hurting. But I’m sitting on the chair.

“Can I go now, Dad?”

“Yes. Of course. Thank you.”

My son goes back to slaughtering aliens. I sit on the chair and think about the good old days – when parents washed plates by hand and happy, smiling children stood next to them with tea towels. And no-one had a bad back…

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  1. Jules cartwright says:

    I so sympathise with you. I have a bad back. When the kids come in from school to me on the sofa I just get ‘oh….not again’. I’m having decompression surgery in August and youngest is concerned it will bugger his birthday plans up in Oct!!

    • Well thanks for that, Jules. Certainly puts the 15 minutes I’m spending doing exercises on the bathroom floor into perspective – and yes, I can now get up off the floor without help! All the best with the surgery: hope it goes as well as it possibly can.

  2. As an individual with back problems, well body problems, there have been many times over the years that I have had to ask my children for help and there will still be days in the future. You know what, they’ve coped.

    • Thanks for the comment, Catherine – you have my absolute sympathy. Fortunately after four or five days i seem to be on the mend. Not that I’m telling the children, obviously: “My back’s still really painful, darling. Could you just empty the dishwasher for me?”

  3. Don’t you just love how sympathetic the kids are?! Maybe it’s time to start planning your nursing home place now.
    Hope you feel better soon.

    • Thanks, Izzie. Fortunately nothing is ever wasted in the life of a blogger – even lying on the bedroom floor – and next week’s post will feature ‘lack of sympathy’ fairly strongly. Anyway, must dash: Beloved Daughter says there’s a 2-for-1 deal on new hips…

  4. Ha! Your trials and tribulations always make me laugh Mark. Mainly because I am just four or so years behind you in the “Dad experience curve” 🙂

    • Do your exercises, Barry. Sadly it seems to be the case that pulling the cork out of a bottle doesn’t equal a full workout…

  5. Oh Mark I’m so sorry to see this. There are some women who find men with a walking stick irresistible. 98 year old millionaire ones to marry maybe. But you’ll get there 😉 (Just trying to make you laugh and sorry if it hurts 🙁 ).

    • Thanks, Anya. Absolutely hate it – like getting a postcard from your old age. ‘Just dropping you a line. Not long now…’ So I’m geared up for a full day’s writing today: cup of tea on my desk – and a large tin of ‘Deep Freeze pain relief cold spray’ next to it…

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