Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Watch Your Step

I was typing at my computer when the volunteer on duty that day appeared in the office doorway.

"Doris," she said, "a visitor has just fallen down the stairs in the Gatehouse! I don't think she's hurt but you ought to come and have a word."

"Of course, I'll just grab my accident report form and a pen."

The Gatehouse is fabulously old and has a slight lean to it. The stairs are very steep, narrow and worn. You only have to look at the stairs to see they are not suitable for carelessly running up or down, yet, just to be on the safe side, we have a large sign at the foot of the stairs which reads "Please Take Great Care on the Stairs." Still, wherever you have steps and thousands of people, statistically, sooner or later, someone will miss their footing.

I followed my volunteer out into the house. She looked around her, perplexed. "Where's this visitor then?" I asked.

"Well, she was here a moment ago. Maybe she's gone to look round the other rooms." My volunteer went off to see if she could spot her, while I went the other way, into the Hall.

From the Hall you can go up to the Minstrel's Gallery and explore the rooms on the first floor. The staircase is old, made of oak, and we do warn our visitors to take care upon them, as they are somewhat steep and uneven.

As I stood by the staircase, looking around for my volunteer to see if she had found our missing accident prone visitor, I heard a cry, a thud and turned round in time to see a woman bumping down the last few stairs on her back.

"Not again!" she exclaimed as she slid to a stop.

"Um....are you by any chance the lady who fell down the stairs in the Gatehouse?" I asked.

She was.

I completed the necessary paperwork and mused on the odds of falling down both sets of stairs in the space of about ten minutes. It reminded me of the boy who was sick on the bug hunt and then fell in the moat, last year.

Some people really do know how to get the most from a day out.