Praise the NHS and pass the emollient.

I have the use of two hands again. This week a very kind nurse in the Forth Valley Royal Hospital took a circular chainsaw to my stookie (1). The polyresin crackled and out popped the hand I haven't seen for the last five weeks looking reassuringly, well, handy. I didn't feel a thing, but I counted my fingers just in case (I've seen what saws can do). Yes. One, two, three, four, five.

Actually, once the plaster cast was off I did feel a thing. Pain mostly. "It's still healing," the nurse told me. She sent me home with some exercises to do and an arm brace to act as insurance.

Loading article content

I wore it all the time at first. Partly because it allowed me to pretend to be Iron Man (2). But once I felt reassured that my hand wouldn't just, you know, fall off, I decided to let it breathe a bit. And anyway, I'd realised there was lots of fun to be had removing all the dead skin that was on my palm. It rubbed off like soft cheese, which was admittedly slightly gross but also very satisfying.

A day or two later my hand had dried out, leaving a flakey scurf. I happily sat listening to the football on the radio (Arsenal were getting humped, which made me even happier) while furled petals of pale, shrivelled skin dandruffed the dinner table (3).

By then, though, life was already shifting itself back into familiar patterns. I once again qualified as designated driver. Daughter number one wanted to go to a pub quiz with her mates in Stenhousemuir last Friday. My job was to get her there.

"Do you want me on your team?" I asked. The look she gave me was a mixture of pure horror and contempt. I gathered from it that the answer was no. Her loss. (And she did lose.) I bet I'd have been really good at identifying the pop song from the sax solo (she only managed one out of 10; Careless Whisper, because her younger sister is something of a George Michael fan).

But it turns out my ability to spot a Steve Norman sax solo after just one or two notes (who's Steve Norman? You don't know? He blew on Spandau Ballet's True), is not what I am valued for apparently.

Instead, I have assumed my default position in the family narrative. I am - once again - a pair of hands. A pair of hands that is useful mainly for steering the car to the destination of my daughter's choice and for picking up wet towels off the bathroom floor.

Only when I'm wearing my brace, mind.


[1] Did you know the word stookie is derived from stucco, the Italian word for plaster? Thank you Twitter.

[2] That's normal, right. Come on, are you telling me you wouldn't?

[3] Oh don't make that face. I cleaned it up before we had dinner.