‘Bandy legs: A bit of a chuckle and a reminder to be kind to yourself’

Apr 29, 2020
John writes about his bandy legs. Source: Getty Images

This isn’t meant to be a story so much as a number of observations concerning a personal feature about which, thankfully, I’ve always been able to laugh. But there is also a reflective side to the humour.

I’m a bandy-legged sort of bloke (or as the old saying went: were I a girl, I’d be pleasure bent). My great-grandfather used to say our family had the physical trait — and in me it was most pronounced of all — because of our Scottish Highland heritage where the legs are bent to suit the slope of the hills. (Please don’t confuse this with King Island people who have one leg shorter than the other so they can lean permanently into the wind. They only have a problem on a rare calm day.)

On the Scottishness issue, I recall once at school sitting in class assembly in my kilt, my ankles together, when Miss Smith demanded I close my knees. Chuckling and trying to show her it was an impossibility, she became quite flustered and ordered me to the headmaster’s office. Old Jacko chuckled.

“Dinnae ye mind, laddie. I’ll hae a wee wurd wi’ the lass …” It was also the last day I sat at front of class.

Bandyitis has never caused me any great difficulties. Except, perhaps, playing football. I had an early coach tell me, “Son, if the ball’s coming towards you on the ground, make sure you don’t miss gathering it by hand, ’cause it’ll go straight between your legs!”

My father-in-law was more disparaging. Several of us were trying one day to stop a Berkshire pig from getting into the kitchen garden. My FIL looked across at me, saying, “No use you being there. The bloody thing’ll just run straight through you and not touch on either side!”

My mother often laughed about my arrival in the world, quoting a poem whose author she named, although the name now escapes me. I’d love to give attribution if I could:

Who should come up the road one day
But the doctor man in his four-wheel dray.
As he stopped his horse, he cried out, “Ahoy!
I have brought along a bow-legged boy.
Such a cute little boy!
Such a funny little boy!
Such a dear little bow-legged boy.

Back in my teens, I used to try to take part in a one-on-one game, the greasy pole. A wooden power pole would be suspended off the edge of a wharf, 4 or 5 metres above the water. It would be liberally greased and two people would take up position on it facing each other, with both swinging hessian bags full of chaff, each attempting to knock the other off the pole and into the water.

Guess who never had enough grip to stay securely on the damned thing, let alone win a contest? Still, we laughed our heads off, while getting dunked time and again!

My cricket coach at school used to offer good advice. When fielding, if the ball was struck hard in your direction and likely to come to you on the half volley, it was normal to protect your privates by any means available, including squatting and closing the knees. That wouldn’t work for me so the coach used to tell me, wherever I was fielding, to be certain I was wearing my box! “Don’t want you singing soprano, son!”

So there you are, not really a story but something to offer a bit of a chuckle during a time when the world as we know it has turned on its ear. I think it essential for us to maintain our sense of humour, especially if we can be a bit self-disparaging without actually putting ourselves down.

It’s good to be able to laugh, especially in these straitened times.

It would be awful to be paranoid about such matters, but I know many are. I guess I’m blessed in that regard although, mind you, my ‘bandy-leggedness’ is nothing — really little more than a minor malady — when you consider what others must bear.

Although this item is lighthearted in intent, please don’t allow anything to cause you pain or concern. Try to have a spouse or friend or relative to whom you can turn, and remember, if things are not as bright as you would like, help can be just a phone call away.

If you or anyone you know needs help: Lifeline — 13 11 14; MensLine Australia — 1300 789 978; BeyondBlue — 1300 224 636; Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467; Headspace — 1800 650 890; Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800
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