.. not Chicago which traditionally holds this accolade – although in my experience it’s far too busy snowing and being generally unpleasant for anyone to remark ‘tad breezy out here tonight‘, or even our own town of Ross-On-Wye which is treating post-xmas weather depressions with the whirlygig dance of the wheelie bin.
No, rather closer to home is my mostly pressurised small intestine which was exactly one stomach cramp from being disembowelled with a blunt spoon. This, predictably, is all my own fault, butsomeone less intuitively vectored by an entirely inappropriate salad fetish.
Back before the world turned the right way, the tribe for which I’m at least partially responsible took a long, hard look at a British Christmas and instead jumped on a plane heading 2000 miles due south to a place where the sun was shining, the beer was free, the people were lovely and the kitchenhygienewas pretty much ‘fetch it off the floor and throw it on the plate‘.
I’ve always loved Africa. Ridden in the awesome mountains, buggered about in the endless deserts, dodged car-jacking in the big cities and survived the scariest game of poker I’ve ever been desperate to lose. And if there is one thing I have learned, it is ‘don’t eat anything that’s ever been underwater‘*. Except, being old and stupid, I’d forgotten this important survival principle, instead mixing beer and photosynthesis with the kind of wild abandon that is‘make sure you have a good book or, better still, access to an extensive library because your world is basically bogs and books‘ your life for a couple of very long days.
So Marrakesh was fab. I’d even slipped in a day’s mountain biking before some form of plague slipped into my gut, and pretty much refused to leave even when diluted with the vast quantities of alcohol an all-inclusive holiday could offer.
Returning home to snow and sleet, my intestinal tract crossed continents and time zones without ever giving up the kind of pressure that could have triggered the oxygen masks on the plane home, were it not for my involuntary pelvic floor exercises.
Really that four hour flight gave me more than a sufficient window to enactan uninterrupted performance of ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ arranged for small intestinal trumpet and rectal oboe’Looking back, I feel this was a once-in-a-lfetime opportunity badly missed.
It didn’t get much better regardless of my best efforts to ignore it, or to beat it to death with Stilton and Port. Eventually – having self diagnosed myself with terminal stomach cancer – the obvious next step** was to invoke the ‘free at the point of service‘ medical care we’re so lucky to receive in this country,
‘Press 1 if you’ve got better, or press 2 if you’re moving towards the light‘ represents my first interaction with the NHS who have clearly been overrun with malingerers, so much so that when a real human answers the phone, they do not offer you an actual appointment. No, instead you’re palmed off with the potential remote diagnosis offered by a Doctor who’ll call you back at some point in the next few days. Gee, thanks.
I did get the call. From a lovely female doctor who first checked my date of birth, and then spent the rest of the conversation in a somewhat bemused state surprised I was even still alive, and therefore any actual ailment was pretty much just the Grim Reaper sharpening his Scythe.
It went something like this:
Her: ‘Can you describe you stools’
Me “Sure, two in the shedofdreams(tm), a couple in the kitchen… oh I see, right, well you know they’re kind of normal but a bit orange’
Her ‘How Orange?’
Me ‘To be fair, I’ve not fished them out to check their pantone, or chucked an orange in there to give me some kind of graduation/. Can we just go withOrange?’
Her ‘Any Knobbles’
Me ‘Not really, more your Maxxis Icon than a DHF’
Her ‘ Sorry?’
Me ‘7 years of training and not a single day comparing poo’s to mountain bike tyres? The world is going to shit’
Her ‘Right well you’re clearly not dying, so we can’t give you any antibiotics as per the memo I received this morning from the busybodies in the Department of Health’
Me ‘Yeah but I took some when I was in Africa. I checked them out and – quoting directly – ‘these are used on animals except in poor countries’
Her ‘ that’s doesn’t sound too good’
Me ‘ No way, Cows have got four stomachs. They’re pretty fucked up all the time. Amazing they don’t explode. Good for a cow, good for me, can I have some more please?’
Her ‘No. I’d suggest you eat vegetables for two weeks, stay off the alcohol and any dairy products’
Me ‘Fuck. Really? What’s the plan here? Are we trying to bore the sodding infectionto death? Those long winter nights are hardly going to fly by. Can we have the antibiotics conversation again? Because while I respect your medical credeentuals you are clearly 12 years old’
Her ‘I’d suggest vegetables and yoghurt’
Me ‘ You weren’t even alive when this was considered hip and cool by the veggie generation’
There’s a line crossed when you’re discussing the shape and size of your major output with a person – some twenty years your junior – you have never met. Thankfully the damage to any remaining dignity has long since passed.
Anyway, having having visited a few of my old haunts, many friends suggested I was looking both sprightly and tanned. That’s not a tan, it’s the terrible side effect of pushing Stilton aside to grab a carrot. Much more of this and I’ll be making a living as a David Dickenson look-a-like.
So, I’ve cracked and had a beer, Or 4. And on that basis, I feel further self medication is the way forward. Pass me that spoon.
* My eldest child who had a diet of Pizza and Chips with the occasional parent-insisted vegetable was absolutely fine. A point made with the kind of irritating repetition which suggested late-teen adoption was a long considered option.
** From Carol. Who I think was pretty much ready with the spoon if I didn’t man up and call the quacks.