Anyone with a shade-throwing friend or colleague will be familiar with the barbed enquiry, when one is not looking as youthful as one would wish: “Are you sure you can manage the stairs?”
Those stairs though, passive and dependable as they may seem, obediently standing by to help you re-establish contact with your meds or enable a costume change, have moods too.
Dark ones, as Simon Cowell discovered last week.
Claiming that he was “going to get a cup of milk to help him sleep” (*mouths words* “a cup of milk???”) a sudden plunge in blood pressure led to him blacking out on what is doubtless a sweeping marble double helix of a staircase at the Cowell compound.
And being stretchered out in a neck brace.
A glimpse at the statistics, however, suggests that the staircase is no place to be searching for milk when one’s blood pressure is a little sluggish, as more than 1,000 people in the UK don’t make it to the bottom of the stairs alive following a spill each year.
And that friendly old retainer injures a staggering 100,000 victims annually, an average of one every 90 seconds.
Many of those “victims”, however, may also be treating the most dangerous square footage in the home with the sort of cavalier overconfidence more typical among young people and drug users (such as the 21-year-old female who stated she “drank mushroom tea, thought she was in hell, and jumped down stairs to get away.”)
Plenty of incidents are also caused by people selfishly leaving objects on the stairs or carrying “difficult” objects up or down them.
Research found that not only did one in three people recognise the dangers of their behaviour but that even knowing this, they would still take the risk.
Certain carpet patterns can also bring a grown adult down, although researchers failed to specify which combination of colour and shape was most likely to lead to hospitalisation.
Amazingly, even with all this evidence piled up, much of it in Accident and Emergency, it is not against the law in the UK to use a staircase without holding on to a bannister.
So while the western world already has a great deal to be thankful to Simon Cowell for, such as crafting One Direction from audition cast-offs and keeping the name Eric alive and well (there were 390 Erics born in England and Wales last year, the same number as Cooper and Rhys), to that long list can be added what Saint Peacock is going to call “stair-wareness”.
Thanks to this revelation of just how close he was living to the edge, Cowell promised the Sun he would be making some sort of radical lifestyle change, and although he failed to specify quite what, the government’s own humiliating advice for the condition includes “standing up gradually” and “wearing support stockings.”
As Britain’s premier male lifestyle advice destination though, Saint Peacock can sum up the required lifestyle adjustment in one word: “bungalow”.