The other day at work we got talking about scars and how we came to get them. I have a few, as most people do, some darker and newer, some faded white.
I have the four light purple beans on my stomach from my keyhole surgery to have my gallbladder removed when I was 19. There's a chicken pox scar on my left hand, right under my index finger, from when I was five or six.
My left knee has a very faint reminder of the time I played at the end of the garden and fell over onto the chain-link fence and had to go and have a tetanus shot.
My biggest war-wound is a very faint line on my right shin. It's all but disappeared now, 13 years on. It still feels weird when I shave over it, kind of numb and strange.
Picture the scene. I'm 14 years old. I literally think I am THE BEST, as a lot of 14 year olds do. This was completely misguided as looking back I was a complete mess, but bless me for thinking so. Every hot day in the summer holidays, my parents used to drive us to various beaches on the south coast where we'd set up our windbreaks and stripy, sun bleached towels and sit and bake with a cool-box full of ham and peanut butter sandwiches and cold drinks beside us.
British summers are unpredictable at best, but when they're hot, they're hot. This was a summer of hosepipe bans and crunchy, brown grass, water-fights in the street and the smell of cold water hitting hot tarmac. Escaping down to the beach was always a sweet relief, with the breeze offering respite from sticky, clammy skin. Being able to run down the sea, hopping as quickly as we could over the large pebbles and then plunging into the cold water in a belly-flop/face-flop hybrid was a tonic.
This particular summer I had a new, fancy bikini. It was neon pink with thin straps and I felt like a Queen. I was actually very average, but such was the power of the bikini! We often took long walks down this one beach, Pevensey Bay, where my Mum had holidayed when she was younger with her mum and dad and sisters. We'd walk the length of the beach and go and look in the windows of the beaten-up beach house that they used to rent back in the '70s, the small garden overgrown with weeds pushing their way up through the pebbles to see the sun. Through the windows, the wallpaper was faded and still the same as when they used to stay there. It felt like home.
Anyway. So we were on one of our beach walks, me in that neon pink bikini, when I spotted some boys playing beach cricket a bit further up the beach. "This is my time to shine!" I thought to myself. "I look SO HOT RIGHT NOW, they won't be able to resist me!"
And so I embarked on my finest "Pammy in Baywatch"-style run up the beach toward them, shaking my hair in slow-mo; in my head, my limbs were smoothly cutting through the air like long, brown swords, when in fact I actually resembled Dame Barbara Cartland in a bikini, running like Phoebe Buffay.
As I ran towards them, I stumbled (smooth) and fell into a patch of sticky, smelly sinking sand. "TYPICAL" I thought to myself, as the mud splashed all over me upon impact, covering my bikini as well as my face and most of my hair. My parents absolutely PISSED themselves laughing. Genuinely, the laughter must have reached people about 5 miles away. It must have looked hilarious, this girl, giving it all the big'un and then stacking it in stinky mud -- and it only got funnier when I stood up out of the sinking sand, covered in the stuff, looking like Old Gregg.
I swiftly fell back down, and we all laughed more.
It was then that my parents realized something might have been wrong, as I stopped laughing and couldn't get back up. It turned out that when I tripped, I fell straight down, shin to metal, on an anchorage point. BAD LUCK OR WHAT? My shin had smacked full force into the rusty metal, which had bent the bone. NICE.
This was back in the days before mobile phones, and it was quite obvious I'd need hospital attention. I'd started to go into shock, shivering in my scrap of pink with its Pollock-style mud enhancements. The boys playing cricket had definitely noticed me now. They were a fat lot of good though, and my parents had to make a decision about how to get help. They asked my sister to run up the beach to find help, or a phone, and off she ran.
And so it came to be that I got stretchered off that beach with my leg swollen and bleeding, stinking of sulphur and sat in Accident and Emergency in a bikini while a nurse washed out my rust-filled wound and I cried. That was fun.
We discovered later that my sister's way of getting help was running up the beach and arranging the stones to form "SOS" every hundred yards or so. Retro.
So that's my most embarrassing scar story. I suppose it taught me never to run, ever, because BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN.
How about you -- are you accident prone? Do you have a scar that has a story? This is like free therapy, guys. Get it all out.
Natalie tweets: @Natalie_KateM.