I work with a guy, who no matter what you say is wrong with you (including, today, having ‘The Fields of Athenry’ stuck in your head) says ‘there’s nothing worse’.
So leaving broken limbs and falling off heads aside, here’s a countdown of my current top ten of ‘there’s nothing worse’.
10. Having a song stuck in your head – This really depends on the song and what you associate with it. If it’s a four word loop of something by the Cheeky Girls, Whigfield or, to be more current, Jedward, then that’s seriously head wrecking. However, if it’s a song that reminds you of something or someone good or if it’s along the lines of ‘We Are the Champions’ then it’s fantastic!
9. Getting to the phone as it stops ringing – This is made worse when you then go to call the person straight back and you can’t get them because they’re leaving you a voicemail, are ringing someone else or have just dropped the phone and ran away, as some stand up comedian once said.
8. Banged knee – I used to work with a guy who would bang his knee off his desk or the drawers underneath at least 3 times a week and would curse blue blazes every time he did so. Oh how I laughed. I still see him occasionally, and he still does it, and I still laugh.
7. Cough – Chesty or tickly, I never really know the difference and both are annoying but (and I don’t include coughs belonging to asthmatics here) cough bottle generally tastes good and they’re usually just irritating more so than painful. Also, at least they’re an obvious sign of illness so result in sympathy at best, or at worst a little disgust. You can use it to scare people off sitting beside you on the bus, in the least creepy way.
6. Headache – No fun but really (and I don’t include migraines when I say this) they aren’t so bad, and I get them often enough. They’re a bit debilitating but generally to be expected, accepted and are controllable with fresh air, water or any one of the many over the counter, no need to sign your life away, pain killing drugs.
5. Stubbed toe – Who moved that flipping doorframe / fireplace / coffee table again?! How is it that some days (or maybe this is just me) inanimate objects that have been in your surroundings for significant periods of time seem to jump out and get underfoot, or rather in front of foot? I also bang my shoulders off doorframes for the same reason, they move.
4. Sore throat – Ouch, now as someone who once had tonsiltennisitis for four months I really find it hard not to place this higher. I get serious fear when I feel the slightest twinge, ache or scratch in my throat. Even if it’s the morning after a late night spent in a smoky room signing ‘Hold me now’ into my hairbrush for hours on end I’m convinced it’s back. I don’t take my winter scarf off until 31st May, when I usually switch to a summer scarf, for fear.
3. Toothache – Anything that means you can't eat is a very bad thing. If it causes pain and no eating it's even worse. If it means paying for your dentist's grandchildren to go to college for the pleasure of him drilling, filling, using your chest as a table for his tools and asking you 'how're things in work?' while you've four fingers, a teeny tiny mirror, a scrapey pokey thing and a mini hoover in your mouth, then it's even worse again!
2. Paper cut – Beats the toothache to reach number two for two reasons. 1. The element of surprise (and by surprise I mean absolute shock and horror that you've managed to slice yourself open with a regular old piece of foolscap!!) and 2. The fact that’s it’s generally entirely your own fault that you are in such pain, from an injury that is oh so very small.
1. Earache – You feel like an alien is attacking you, boring some implement into your ear. Don’t believe the writers of South Park, real aliens conduct ‘aural probes’. Every sound hurts, every move hurts, someone breathing on the other side of the room hurts. You can't sleep on the sore ear on the pillow because it hurts; you can't sleep with the sore ear up because it really hurts. Earaches win the 'there's nothing worse' stakes by a country mile.