Orange peel and other hazards
29 Jul 2011
Posted by: Anna Stone
Subjects: Interesting stories
What do a vicar from Shropshire, a diabolo, a parrot and orange peel have in common? The answer is that all are found on the lists of claims paid by personal accident companies in the last decades of the 19 th and the first decade of the 20 th centuries. I’ve been looking through these booklets, and some of the other promotional material produced by our accident subsidiaries, in preparation for a display in our entrance hall and couldn’t resist giving them a slightly wider audience.
Aviva constituent companies were pioneers of accident insurance in the UK and amongst their advertising material in the archive collection there are some real gems. Railway Passengers Assurance, which claimed to be the oldest accident office in the world, produced annual booklets listing claims paid out in the year. Copies of these lists survive in the archive dating between 1869 and 1913.
Similar booklets were produced by other insurers most notably Scottish Accident Insurance for which company we hold a series of scrap books of promotional material from 1877 to 1908. Designed to demonstrate to prospective customers the dangers that surrounded them in everyday life, the examples of claims paid were chosen to reflect both the wide range of causes of accidents and the broad geographical, social and professional spread of their unfortunate, but providentially insured, victims.
Usually these booklets were arranged into sections for different causes of accidents, the Railway Passengers booklet of 1884 contained examples taken from 7,015 claims paid in that year for “accidents of all kinds occurring when at occupation, when walking, when riding, when driving, when shooting, when hunting, when yachting, when bathing, when fishing, when bicycling, when tricycling, by dynamite, in a gale, in the house, in the streets, on the railway, on the tramcar, on the steam boat, on the river, on a tour, at work, at football, at cricket , at lawn tennis, at polo and at golf.”
Periodically new sections were added including, in 1885, a section for “injuries at election time” which included claims for injuries caused by “blow from policeman’s staff.”
Within these sections the companies liked to include a range of accidents reflecting everyday slips and falls as well as the rather more unusual like the 1892 claim for £50 paid to “ Merchant, Essex, injured eye from rice throwing at wedding. ”
According to a booklet produced by Scottish Accident it was exactly these bizarre accidents that personal accident insurance was designed to protect against “Accident insurance is meant to provide not against the expected disaster, which, being expected can be avoided; but against the thousand chances of life which turn upon the trivial and unnoticed commonplaces of everyday existence.” A similar sentiment was expressed in verse in a later poster produced by Ocean Accident and Guarantee:
“From fortune’s slings and arrows
Who can boast himself exempt
While danger lurks where e’er we go
In all that we attempt
And be one ne’er so careful
Or as awkward as a camel is
Yet accidents can happen in
best regulated families”
As with so many of the records of insurance companies viewed from the vantage point of the 21 century, these lists are a rich source of historical information reflecting as they do the society of the day and the changes it underwent even during the brief period they cover. Personal accident insurance, as it came to be known, was a child of the railway age when the carnage of locomotive transport was regularly reported in the newspapers.
Set up to answer a need in one very specific sphere of 19 th century life this new form of insurance quickly adapted to encompass accidents of all kinds and temporary and permanent disablement as well as death. By 1890, according to Scottish Accident which also produced a booklet of letters from well known individuals extolling the virtues of this class of business, “accident insurance is the necessity of the age.” This would appear to be all too true when one remembers that this was a period predating statutory sick pay, the welfare state and the National Health Service.
Accidents meant doctor’s bills and loss of income should the victim survive while in the case of death or permanent disablement the loss of the income provider could well mean destitution for his wife or children.
The fact that such insurance was primarily designed to protect family income meant that the majority of the insured were men and examples of women in the claims lists, such as “Lady, London fell over chair in dark - £75” , are rare. According to a Railway Passengers’ booklet of 1887, “to the professional and commercial classes whose incomes depend on their exertions, a provision against casualties that may prostrate them is now recognised as a necessity and a duty.”
A warning of the dire consequences of failure to insure was expressed in a verse accompanying a contemporary advertisement by Ocean Accident and Guarantee.
“I lost my legs in an explosion
And uninsured I’ve no provision
So for support I lift my palms
And lacking legs I ask for alms.”
Reflected through the accident claims lists the United Kingdom of the late Victorian and Edwardian era was a very dangerous place indeed. The roads appear to have been just as lethal in the reign of the hansom cab as they later became under the car and examples such as “Solicitor, Weston Super Mare, thrown from carriage” are legion.
The rise of motor transport is shown in increasing claims for accidents in which horses were frightened by them, such as “Flour factor, London thrown from trap - horse frightened by motor - fatal” . The first reference to a motor car accident appears in a list for 1900 and by 1907 some accident companies were targeting motorists by producing specific lists of motor accidents.
Increased leisure time and the range of leisure activities of the period are also evident in the number of sports related accidents listed not just in traditional country pursuits such as hunting and shooting but, particularly as the century drew to a close, team sports such as football, cricket and hockey and other leisure activities like gymnastics, ice skating and even quoits.
As might be expected, common claims in cold weather were for falls on icy pavements but when the streets were free from ice and snow the unexpected menace of orange peel appeared.
The first time I saw “ Commercial traveller, Preston, slipped on orange peel - £50” on one of the lists I thought it was an example of an unusual or bizarre accident but it soon became clear that slips and trips on peel were as common as falling down stairs or being thrown from a horse and examples appear in almost every booklet between 1870 and 1907.
A quick search of the internet reveals that the dangers of peel are not unrecorded, its most well-known conquest being Bobby Leach who, having survived going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, literally fell victim to orange peel while walking in New Zealand and died later of complications from the resultant amputation of his leg.
From cartoons which appear in other promotional material it is evident that orange peel was the fast food wrapper equivalent of the day, thrown down by unthinking school boys who had never heard of the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ campaign. Incidentally, the more well-known slipping hazard of a banana skin, so beloved of slapstick comedy, only appears once in the lists, in 1904.
That this was an age before the health and safety rules we sometimes rail against today is also clearly reflected in the sections on accidents at work such as the 1868 claim for “Cotton spinner, Macclesfield, caught hand in machinery, lockjaw - £1000” and the 1887 payment of £22.10 shillings to “Pork butcher, London, hand caught in sausage machine.”
The earliest of these lists also predate the introduction of employers’ liability insurance so that the cotton spinner, or in this case his dependants, rather than having to prove the negligence of his employer simply claimed on the insurance which he himself had taken out.
Similarly, in the period before public liability insurance, personal accident insurance policies provided compensation for those, such as “Carriage builder, Tunbridge, slipped off curb - £78” and “General dealer, Southsea, while passing down the street boiler of brewery exploded - killed on the spot - £100”, who in more recent times would have had to pursue councils and brewery owners.
While it is clear from the lists that "compensation culture" is not a new phenomenon, because personal accident insurance encouraged individuals to take responsibility for providing their own financial safety net there was no need for the blame element of many modern compensation claims. It is, in many ways, refreshing to look back on an age which accepted that accidents happen and solved the problem of providing for their victims without any need to apportion blame.
Perhaps the true appeal of personal accident insurance in this period was that while covering negligence of third parties and employers it also allowed recompense for the insured’s own lack of forethought in such cases as “Farmer, Deal, fell asleep in front of fire burned leg - £55.10 shillings” and “Maltster, Warwick, struck eye with own whip when riding - £156” as well as for pure ‘acts of god’ like “Surgeon, Wetherfields, struck dead by lightening while riding on horseback - £1000”.
In 1875 a Railway Passengers Assurance booklet asserted “It is not meant that the mere fact of receiving injury should entitle the assured to compensation, to pretend to pay for pain of mind of body would be absurd”.
However, to the casual 21 st century reader it does seem that at times this early personal accident insurance encouraged trivial claims for example the the £10 awarded in 1888 to a traveller of Stourbridge who lost a toe nail when getting into bed and the, to my mind, undeserved £6 compensation paid to a Gentleman from Mold, who hurt his toe when he accidentally kicked the sofa while trying to kick the dog.
Certainly by 1885 Scottish Accident appears to be paying out for “pain of mind” for “ Chemist , Manchester, knocked over on pavement by man running; shock to system - £20” and similarly in 1889 for the unfortunate “Superintendant fire brigade, Bradford, driving fire engine in a fog, ran against house, bruised and shaken - £15.”
Now all that remains is for me to share some of the examples I have come across, in what I like to call the ultimate Aviva historic personal accident claims paid list. The quotes appear just as they do in the original lists with profession and geographical location of the assured, nature of accident and amount of compensation received to which I have added details of the insuring company and the year.
I have listed them under the headings used by the insurers themselves and in the grand tradition of the genre have included typical accidents of the period alongside some frankly bizarre incidents, such as the leapfrog injury sustained by the vicar from Shropshire, at which I can’t help but smile.
Ultimate Aviva historic personal accident claims paid list
- Cotton spinner, Macclesfield, caught hand in machinery - lockjaw - £1000 (Railway Passengers, 1869)
- Mine adventurer, Devon, foot caught in rope down mine - £115 (Railway Passengers, 1875)
- Builder, Taunton, struck knee with a hammer - £66 15s (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Hotel keeper, London, opening bottle of champagne - blow in the eye with cork - £25 10s (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Surgeon, Yorkshire, poisoned hand unpacking box of drugs - £136 10s (Railway Passengers, 1884)
- Colliery agent, Bolton, colliery explosion - £60 (Railway Passengers, 1884)
- Surgeon, Wales, sprain while performing an operation - £151 10s (Railway Passengers, 1884)
- Innkeeper, Harwich, fell down cellar stairs - £250 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Wood merchant, Broughty Ferry, cut with circular saw - £100 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Piano seller, Sterling, piano fell on claimant - £156 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Fishmonger, London, tank of fish fell when unloading cart - £48 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Grocer, Leeds, box of bacon fell on assurer - £94 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Dental surgeon, Liverpool, lever of operating chair slipped - £54 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Farmer, Maldon, gored by bullock - £50 15s (Railway Passengers, 1886)
- Agricultural implement maker, Cornwall, piece of iron flew from chisel into eye - £156 (Railway Passengers, 1886)
- Mason, Huntingdon, injured lifting headstone - £72 (Railway Passengers, 1886)
- Licensed victualler, London, injured shin ejecting drunken man - £100 (Railway Passengers, 1887)
- Musician, London, slipped down orchestra steps - £67 (Railway Passengers, 1887)
- Pork butcher, London, hand caught in sausage machine - £22 10s (Railway Passengers, 1887)
- Surgeon, Dundee, examining mouth of patient - bite of forefinger - £15 (Scottish Accident, 1888)
- Printer, Dundee, hand slipped into guillotine - four fingers left hand amputated at knuckles -£100 (Scottish Accident, 1889)
- Comedian, London, leaping from rocks onto stage - £57 (Railway Passengers, 1889)
- Accountant, Plymouth, box of specie (coins) fell on foot - £41 (Railway Passengers, 1892)
- Lieutenant, Aldershot, slipped when marching - broken leg - £58 5s (Railway Passengers, 1895)
- Nurse, Plymouth, inhalation of poisonous gas from supposed empty jar - fatal - £500 (Railway Passengers, 1900)
- Vocalist and dancer, London, slipped on beads on stage - £39 (Railway Passengers, 1900).
- Journalist, Birmingham, Lady tripped and fell against him, forehead cut by brooch - £7 (Scottish Accident, 1885)
- Surgeon, Glasgow, gathering wild flowers - bitten by an adder - blood poisoning - £21 (Scottish Accident, 1890)
- Surgeon, Longton, knocked down by bicycle - £46 10s (Railway Passengers, 1892)
- Solicitor, Rhyl, slipped on a turnip - sprained muscles of knee - £20 (Scottish Accident, 1894)
- Lady, London, slipped on leaf - £78 (Railway Passengers, 1895)
- Brewer, Guernsey, striding across flowerbed injured knee - £20 (Railway Passengers, 1895).
- Surgeon, Wetherfields, struck dead by lightening while riding on horseback - £1000 (Norwich and London Accident, 1877)
- Maltster, Warwick, struck eye with own whip when riding - £156 (Railway Passengers, 1881)
- Surgeon, South Wales, horse frightened by man cutting hedge - £106 10s (Railway Passengers, 1886).
When driving (horse drawn vehicles)
- Livery Stable Keeper, Cheltenham, dark night, drove into ditch - £500 (Railway Passengers, 1886)
- Gentleman, Westward Ho, wagonnet upset - fractured skull - £500 (Railway Passengers, 1895)
- Flour factor, London, thrown from trap - horse frightened by motor - fatal - £1000 (Railway Passengers, 1906)
- Contractor, East Harling, motor car skidded and turned over - £25 (Railway Passengers, 1900)
- Warehouseman, Dublin, thrown from car - thumb sprained - £18 (Scottish Accident, 1904)
- Florist, Shepreth, run into by a motor whilst out driving (a horse drawn vehicle) - fatal - £250 (Railway Passengers, 1907)
- Lady, Carlow, thrown out of car - £37 15s (Railway Passengers, 1907)
- Shipbuilder, Troon, injured by car backfiring - £57 (Railway Passengers, 1907).
- Commercial traveller, Bristol, shot glanced from stone and struck eye - £114 (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Farmer, Bardon, companion’s gun went off - shot in both legs - £105 (Railway Passengers, 1881)
- Master Mariner, Truro, hammer of gun caught when getting through hedge - £500 (Railway Passengers, 1892).
- Merchant, London, horse ran away and dashed assurer against a tree - £60 (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Carrier, Enfield, knocked down by stag while hunting - £111 (Railway Passengers, 1889).
- Clerk, Worcester, diving - blow from fellow bather’s heel - £36 15s (Railway Passengers, 1869)
- Traveller, Birmingham, struck foot against a rock while bathing - £30 (Railway Passengers, 1878).
- Hosier, London, bite from a fish while fishing - £31 10s (Railway Passengers, 1884)
- Grocer, Innerleithen, fell asleep on bank of river - swallowed false teeth - death - £500 (Scottish Accident, 1885)
- Doctor, Putney, taking a weaver fish off hook when fishing - poisoned wound - £18 (Railway Passengers, 1900).
- China dealer, Bedford, spring on bicycle injured leg - £34 10s (Railway Passengers, 1895)
- Gentleman, Godstone, dog got in the way - thrown from bicycle - £18 (Railway Passengers, 1895)
- Watchmaker, Kilkenny, thrown off cycle - palm of hand lacerated - £12 (Scottish Accident, 1904).
- Hatter, London, thrown from tricycle - £93 (Railway Passengers, 1886).
In a gale
- Schoolmaster, Strood, blown down in gale - £250 (Railway Passengers, 1884)
- Clerk, London, thrown down in high wind - broken thigh - £120 (Railway Passengers, 1900).
In the house
- Farmer, Hertfordshire, upset soup - scalded foot - £31 10s (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Clergyman, Worcestershire, trod on a needle - £147 (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Commercial traveller, Newcastle upon Tyne, slipped on carpet - £54 (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Solicitor, London, foot caught in dress - £22 10s (Railway Passengers, 1884)
- Doctor, Berkshire, cutting bread - knife slipped - £54 (Railway Passengers, 1884)
- Lady, London, fell over chair in dark - £75 (Railway Passengers, 1884)
- Major, Ireland, slipped getting out of bath - £33 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Merchant, Cornwall, fall crossing hall - £144 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Draper, Bedford, china door handle broke in hand - £63 (Railway Passengers, 1886)
- Bootmaker, Droxford, slipped on piece of soap fell into fire and upset saucepan - £45 (Railway Passengers, 1886)
- Commercial Traveller, Newark, fall off sofa - £250 (Railway Passengers, 1887)
- Tailor, Launceston, missed chair when going to sit down - £58 10s (Railway Passengers, 1887)
- Farmer, Finchingfield, murdered by son - £250 (Railway Passengers, 1889)
- Surgeon, Somerset, corner of newspaper cut eye - £28 10s (Railway Passengers, 1889)
- Lady, Southport, fall over brush handle - £29 (Railway Passengers, 1889)
- Stock jobber, London, shot by armed burglars - £60 (Railway Passengers, 1889)
- Merchant, Newcastle upon Tyne, eating roast lamb cooked in a utensil which had become accidentally saturated with arsenic and which was in turn absorbed by the meat - £600 (Scottish Accident, 1890)
- Merchant, Solihull, foot caught in pyjamas - fall downstairs - £50 (Railway Passengers, 1893)
- Merchant, Glasgow, injured jumping out of bed to catch wife who had fainted - £42 (Railway Passengers, 1895)
- Commercial Traveller, London, looking for escape of gas with lighted taper - £63 (Railway Passengers, 1900).
In the streets
- Commercial traveller, Preston, slipped on orange peel - £50 (Railway Passengers, 1870)
- Barrister, London, driven over by drunken man - £57 (Railway Passengers, 1881)
- Carriage builder, Tunbridge, slipped off curb - £78 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Draper, Bristol, pushed down by roughs - broken leg - £156 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Farmer, Kidderminster, put foot into cart rut - £80 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Surgeon dentist, Norwich, fall on asphalt - £54 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Underwriter, Liverpool, stuck by policeman in crowd - scalp wound - £10 (Scottish Accident, 1888)
- Draper, Carlisle, attempting to catch hat which had been blown off - collided with railings - fractured arm - £33 (Scottish Accident, 1890)
- Gentleman, Worcester, attempting to control runaway horse - run over by coal cart - £114 (Railway Passengers, 1895)
- Pawnbroker, Brighton, bucket of mortar thrown on head while walking in street - £35 (Railway Passengers, 1895)
- Merchant, slipped on banana skin - £1,000 (Railway Passengers, 1904).
On the railway
- Lady, Wolverhampton, railway collision Dieppe - £36 (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Farmer, Kent, fall between platform and train - £156 (Railway Passengers, 1884)
- Commercial Traveller, Gloucester, blow on leg with bundle of newspapers at railway station - £138 (Railway Passengers, 1888)
- Lodging house keeper, Oxford, express train wreck - £200 (Railway Passengers, 1895).
On the tramcar or omnibus
- Merchant, London, injured eye - blow from umbrella of fellow bus passenger - £46 10s (Railway Passengers, 1888)
- MD, Tiverton, accidental kick from fellow passenger - £156 (Railway Passengers, 1892)
- Commercial traveller, Belfast, watching an accident from top of electric tram - head came in contact with a pole - slight concussion - £7 (Scottish Accident, 1904).
On the river
- Officer, Limerick, injured hand rowing - £50 (Railway Passengers, 1895)
- Bank clerk, London, accidental blow from oar - £37 (Railway Passengers, 1895).
On a tour (Railway Passenger’s customers were covered for accident throughout Europe)
- Merchant, Yorkshire, mule ran down mountainside in Italy - £40 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Wife, London, fall over a cliff in Norway - £250 (Railway Passengers, 1888)
- Solicitor, mountain climbing - fell into crevasse in the Alps - £1,000 (Railway Passengers, 1904).
- Coachbuilder, Blackburn, fall over football - £30 (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Merchant, Bridgwater, internal injuries when playing football - £250 (Railway Passengers, 1886)
- Schoolmaster, Belfast, playing football - trip - wrist sprained - £12 (Scottish Accident, 1904).
- Governor of prison, Airdrie, bat struck against wall when running playing cricket - £250 (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Brick and tile manufacturer, Madeley, concussion of brain and loss of teeth from blow with cricket ball - £27 (Railway Passengers, 1881)
- Manufacturer, London, twisted knee when bowling playing cricket - £25 10s (Railway Passengers, 1887)
- Veterinary surgeon, Bandon, playing cricket middle finger right hand injured - £8 (Scottish Accident, 1904).
At lawn tennis
- Clergyman, York, fall over a dog while playing lawn tennis - £13 10s (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Commercial Traveller, London, slipped playing tennis - amputation of leg - £500 (Railway Passengers, 1889).
- Commission agent, Belfast, getting out of bunker - muscle in leg ruptured - £13 (Scottish Accident, 1904)
- Inspector of schools, London, slipped playing golf - £82 15s (Railway Passengers, 1907).
- Photographer, Wellingborough, broke leg when skating - £120 (Railway Passengers, 1887)
- Bank manager, Cambridge, skating - fell injured knee - £12 (Scottish Accident, 1893).
From frost and snow
- Professor of music, Bishop Auckland, slipped on frozen pathway - £150 (Railway Passengers, 1869)
- Merchant, Greenock, knocked down by sledge - £66 (Railway Passengers, 1887)
- Merchant, Belfast, slipped on frosty road - fell - knee cut - £22 (Scottish Accident, 1904).
Other assorted sports
- Stationer, Chorlton, fall over croquet hoop - £33 (Railway Passengers, 1870)
- Clerk, Dudley, slipped playing quoits - £15 (Railway Passengers, 1870)
- Vicar, Salop, fall when playing leap frog - £120 (Railway Passengers, 1875)
- Gentleman, Sussex, injured leg playing baseball - £16 10s (Railway Passengers, 1875)
- Ironmaster, Penn, slipped when fencing - £75 (Railway Passengers, 1886)
- Clothier, Lynn, fall jumping hurdle - £63 (Railway Passengers, 1886)
- Yeast merchant, Mitcham, injured face and nose when tobogganing - £42 (Railway Passengers, 1887)
- Clerk, Blackheath, trapeze rope broke - £43 10s (Railway Passengers, 1887)
- Agent, Norwood, injured knee playing lacrosse - £30 (Railway Passengers, 1888)
- Merchant, Manchester, standing by billiard table - struck by cue - inflammation of eye - £12 (Scottish Accident, 1888)
- Clerk, Beverly, missed mattress in jumping at gymnasium - £60 (Railway Passengers, 1892)
- Bank clerk, London, blow from hockey stick - £15 (Railway Passengers, 1895)
- Plumber, Moffat, injured curling - £18 (Railway Passengers, 1907)
- Accountant, London, diabolo injured eye - £100 (Railway Passengers, 1907).
- Tea dealer, Edinburgh, dancing - ruptured fibres of leg - £30 (Scottish Accident, 1888)
- Solicitor, Matlock, knocked statue onto leg while dancing - £40 (Railway Passengers, 1900).
Injuries at election time
- Surgeon, West Somerset, blow on eye - £115 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Manufacturer, Nottingham, blow from policeman’s staff - £12 (Railway Passengers, 1885).
From animals (directly and indirectly)
- Law Stationer, London, bite from parrot - £43 10s (Railway Passengers 1878)
- Inspector, Oundle, bitten by a monkey - £21 (Railway Passengers, 1885)
- Butcher, Brynmaur, chasing cat - fell against chair - fractured rib - £13 (Scottish Accident, 1888)
- Hotel Proprietor, Dunstable, fell while trying to catch turkey - laceration of muscles of leg and thigh - £30 (Scottish Accident, 1888)
- Auctioneer, St Austell, rat ran up trousers - fell - inflammation of knee - £30 (Scottish Accident, 1889)
- Gentleman, Mold, missed dog when trying to kick him and struck sofa - injured great toe - £6 (Scottish Accident, 1890)
- Draper, Kenilworth, attacked and knocked down by infuriated bullock - £36 (Railway Passengers, 1892).
- Grocer, Lancashire, slipped when playing with children game of blind man's buff - £15 (Railway Passengers, 1878)
- Accountant, London, injured playing with children at seaside - £61 (Railway Passengers, 1888)
- Farmer, Old Wolverton, slipped on lawn playing with children - £1,000 (Railway Passengers, 1893).
Attempting to save a life
- Surgeon, Halifax, attempting to save drowning woman - finger stuck in corset - inflammation of arm - £12 (Scottish Accident, 1888)
- Commercial Traveller, Derby, rescuing woman and child from drowning - sprained ankle - £24 (Railway Passengers, 1895).
"Insure before you chop a log
Or use a lamp,
Or keep a dog
Or strike a nail
Or drive a wedge
Or buy a blade
Or feel its edge
Or mount a cob
Or lift a kettle off the hob
Or sink in earth
Or mount the skies
Insure at once if you are wise.
What little things may cause mishap
A spark or a percussion cap
An oyster knife, a shoe’s high heel
A slimy curl of orange peel
A rotten rope, a broken chair
Forgotten soap upon the stair
A chimney pot or slipping slate
The broken buckle of a skate
A ladder with a loosen’d rung
A worn out band or cog undone
A very small escape of gas
Or faulty link in chain – alas
A football boot with tip of metal
A bursting lamp or boiling kettle
Their name is legion it is clear
There is not space to tell them here."