The Boy on One Leg
Last night I stubbed my toe and had to stand on one leg for a while whilst the pain wore off. I got distracted making a cup of tea and realised I had been standing on one leg for ten minutes. I thought that was impressive, so I stood on one leg for another ten, just to see if I could. I could. An hour later and I was stood on one leg still watching telly. My mum walked in.
She said “Michael” she said
She said “Michael, you oaf, what are you doing?”
I told her, I said “Mum” I said, I said “I realised I could stand on one leg for a very long time and not fall over so now, Mum, I am testing it.”
She clucked and left the room.
After five days my foot started to hurt, not from my weight but because the floor was so hard. I put down a cushion and hopped on to that and it became a lot more comfortable. I got very good at hopping. I could hop all the way from the living room to the kitchen, out into the hall and upstairs to my bedroom. I pinned a pillow to the wall and wrapped up in my duvet, leant against the wall to sleep. I decided that if I only slept for four hours each night that it wasn’t technically cheating and my conscious would be ok with that. Mum got cross because on Sunday I wouldn’t sit down for the roast and ate my plateful from the kitchen side instead of table. She said I wasn’t allowed any wine, she said it would make me wobble. Dad told me I was barmy. I told him he was jealous. I told him it would be the making of me.
After ten days the local paper sent a reporter to the house. I hopped to the front door, let her in and made her a coffee. She looked annoyed to have to stay standing up to talk to me.
The article she wrote made the national news. A TV breakfast show had picked up the story and I was featured on “This Morning” and “GMTV”. Loose Women wanted to do a feature, but they annoy me too much, so I said no.
The Yorkshire Sculpture park rang one day.
“Michael” they said. They said “Michael we need living statues to recreate sculptures. You’d be perfect. We’ll pay you a hundred pounds a day plus travel. I hopped on the train to Bradford. I had to sit in the car but my right foot never touched the floor. I had a lovely week. A small child pushed my arm in hope but found no reaction from me.
I came home. My dad said “You’re barmy. Absolutely stark soaking barmy you are.” he said. I hopped past him and took a beer from the fridge. Turns out alcohol doesn’t make me wobble. I tried to stretch out my right leg, arabaseque-style but the joints had seized. I decided that was just one of those things.
Mum took me to the doctors. He hit my left knee with a little hammer but it had got so strong in the past two months that I barely wobbled. He smiled at Mum. “Not to worry Mrs. Fraser” he said. He said “not to worry Mrs. Fraser, just a phase. He’ll move onto girls soon, and then you’ll be worried.” He gave me a lolly. I wasn’t quite sure why.
The secretary to the mayor of New York wrote a letter to my parents. She said that the city was very proud of it’s statues and would I like to go to a statuite convention there in the city. They would pay for my flights and my accommodation as long as I didn’t mind being filmed a little bit. I said that would be fine and Mum bought a new hat. Dad laughed for ten minutes when he heard then walked out of the kitchen without saying anything.
We flew from Manchester and the air hostesses smiled as I hopped up the steps to the plane. Whilst in the air, I tried to go to the toilet and hopping in a confined space in turbulence was harder than I’d expected. I held onto the head rests of the aisle seats. Nobody seemed to mind.
In New York the Mayor’s secretary had sent someone to meet us at the airport. I hopped into the limosine and Mum followed, unhappy that her ankles had swollen. We went to the hotel and she lay down. They’d set up a bed as I’d asked them but I was too busy bouncing around by the open window. I could see central park! I could see people roller blading! I wanted to go go go but mum said stay stay, just for a minute, she said please stay and just stop moving. I stopped. I think I look quite graceful when I just stand, rather like a flamingo. I thought about saying this to someone else but then decided not too, in case they wanted me to be like a flamingo statue and painted me pink. Then I’d look stupid.
We went to the statuite convention. There were other people there who dressed like statues, people who had won awards for the ability to just stand as still as possible for hours and hours. They would stand and I would watch them and they just wouldn’t move a muscle. I get too bored for that.
I was told that I would be on the news in America but first I had to do a photo shoot. I got a bit worried about that. I don’t have the best skin. I’m a little bit conscious about it and don’t really like people looking at me too closely and the air conditioning on the plane had sent it all crazy. I looked like a pack of bees had stung me in the face and left lots of little red stings. But there were make-up artists, so my skin was made to look pleasing. The make up girl had to stand on a chair to reach my face because I couldn’t sit down and she was only knee high to a grasshopper.
In the photo shoot I dressed up in different poses and stood around holding my arms out and trying not to laugh at what my dad would say if he could see. He would see though, mum was taking pictures. For the last picture they had a picture of me on a boat with the statue of liberty in the background. I had to lean right over and cup my hands out so that from the angle of the picture it would look like I was holding the statue. Mum read from the guide book and told me all about why the statue was built and what it represented. I was more concerned that a seagull was eyeing up my corn dog (they were one of the best things about America, the corn dogs. I ate so many of them).
The next day when we woke up the hotel had sent up all the local and national newspapers.
“ONE LEGGED BOY IN NEW YORK”
“STATUE MAN THE GREATEST SCHOOL BOY OF THEM ALL”
“I LOVE CORNDOGS SAYS ENGLISH LEFT LEG BOY”
And they were all filled with pictures of me looking like a right goon holding up a corndog and an ice cream near the statue of liberty.
The magazine with the pictures in came out 2 days later to coincide with my appearance on Jay Leno. A fansite had been set up for me and had had over two million hits. The hotel was refusing to let any girl under the age of 18 in because they were being rushed at the door with girls trying to touch me. In Tokyo a school girl died whilst falling off a giant billboard with a picture of me on it. She wanted to touch my hair she said.
I returned home with a whole wardrobe full of new clothes. I gave Dad a new iPod and he looked at me like I was insane. He said “bloody hell lad, the whole bloody world’s barmy” he said. I said “I know” and then told him that the bank manager had told me to spend only the capital of the money I’d earned in America but with that I could still buy him a new car. He dropped his mug of tea.
There were movie offers and record deal proposals and I was seriously considering a script that Diablo Cody had written for me when my headmaster called me into his office.
“Now then Michael, you just have a seat, we have some chatting to do young man.”
I said I didn’t want to sit down, I’d rather stand. He looked at me the same as my dad used to.
“Right then. Lean on the cabinet if you want but mind the plant.”
He said “the thing is now Michael” he said “the thing is that your work is suffering and so is that of your classmates. We know you’ve got a very special talent there with your leg but the windows are being blocked by reporters and photographers and some of the smaller children are suffering from light deficiency. It’s not that we don’t want you at school but we need the natural light. You’re preventing that from happening.”
I sucked my lip “I see Sir.” I said, I said “so what exactly are you saying?”
“I’m saying Michael, that we’re going to have to ask you to leave the school. You need to focus on your own work which you can’t do here but we’ve looked up some tutors for you and the little ones need to be able to breathe bless them. You can see that can’t you lad?”
I said “aye yes I could see that well enough” and that I knew my GCSEs were important and that at school I just lolled about whilst the lasses swooned and the cameras flashed.
He stood up and shook my hand. “Glad we had this chat here Michael, been a pleasure having you here for so long and you’ll still sit your exams here.”
“Ta sir” I said. I said “Ta sir” and then that was that and I was out of school forever.
I said yes and went over to the US to film it. I ate too many corn dogs and figured maybe they weren’t for me. When I came back everyone said I had an American twang and that I did my hair differently. My mum said I hopped much taller and had really grown up. Responsibility had come with the money and fame. She said she was proud. My dad sat behind the daily mail and looked the other way.
I got Ds in my GCSEs but as my agent said, you can’t have everything can you. And I was a multi-million dollar film star so I reckon I just about had enough.