So this week news reached us that Great Granda John had had A Fall. He's a great man of 80 years and the result was a broken hip which left him needing an operation. The family were obviously distressed at this news, and have had daily updates from Granny and we are assured that he is doing well.
This said, once the initial shock and worry had passed, it did lead me to wonder, at what age do you stop "Falling Over" and start to have "A Fall"? There is clearly a heightened sense of gravitas with "A Fall" than with merely stumbling over your own feet.
Now I'd like to point out that falling generally is very much a human thing, you never see Simba trip over his own paws in any of the out takes of the Lion King movies, and I owe this fact to our use of a tail, so to me, the concept of unsure footing is a puzzling one to begin with. But it does stand to reason that there are 'levels' of falling if your species is prone, how one judges this is, to me, a mystery.
One might assume that it is based on age, now with Great Granda John, a man of 80, it stands to reason that he would be described as having had "A Fall" rather than "He fell over". The same, I think, could be said of a man (or woman) of 70 years, but someone in their 60's? - well, this is Granda Oliver's epoch, and he's a man who still wears jeans and worries about his thick mop of hair, were he to unexpectedly find himself, as the dictionary puts it,
"moving downward, typically rapidly and freely without control, from a higher to a lower level"
we would say the loon fell over, probably through tears of laughter, accompanied by some re-enactment for the benefit of those not present. So it cannot be attributed to age.
Nor, it would seem, can it be based on instability. Mam (30) for example, now weighs in at approximately 200st and is unable to control neither where her feet go, nor her weight distribution as she moves, and to those watching her simply walk, you would definitely say (albeit so she couldn't hear) that she is unstable at best. Were she to wobble groundwards we would still say she fell over, but perhaps without the laughing in her face that Granda Oliver would get. She, even in her fragile state, would not be said to have had the more serious incident of "A Fall".
Indeed, nor is it the circumstance in which the falling occurs, Grandad Howell (mid 50s) fell on some ice while getting out of his car, and nearly ran himself over, as it happened on that day, he hadn't put the handbrake on. However he was described as having "Fallen Over", (he was actually described by all who witnessed the incident and subsequently heard about it as "A Fool" and branded a laughing stock by his children but you get the gist). So if it's not age or fragility or circumstance that bump you up the Fall Chart, I am at a loss as to what does take you from a Mis-Step to "A Fall"...answers on a post card please, in case this Deer-like behaviour be contagious.