Black Thumbnail

A couple of months ago I was taking apart some pallets so that I could use the wood as a bit of retro décor in the roastery, when I boshed my thumb full-on with a hammer. I swore like a trooper, shaking my hand madly, cursing. A good look at the thumbnail suggested that it would probably go bad and fall off.

As July and August passed and I wondered if we’d ever see a hot day this summer, I watched the nail change its colours from green to red to dark purple, just like the shiny blackberries in the grounds behind the roastery. The bruise moved slowly north from the cuticle to the tip of the thumbnail and made a thin, snapping sound every time I caught it on something.

This week, while I was driving through the Lakes on a rare cloudless day, I snagged my hand and the nail almost came off in one go. It was tempting to bite through the remaining bit that stubbornly clung on. Once home, I snipped off the old dead nail to reveal a clean replacement. Regenerated and soft, the new nail growth looked baby-like and I knew I’d have to be careful with it for some weeks.

Sometimes, when you feel as if the world’s dealt you a bad card, the simplest things, like a nail regrowing, is all it takes to make you realise you’ve got a lot to celebrate.