Saturday, 26 January 2008

A warning, a sex change and a top tip

14st 12lb; zero alcohol; 1,470: Plymouth.

A day of shock revelations, unsuccessful experimentation and mind-numbing labour. The first shock revelation was a letter from my doctor telling me that my cholesterol reading of 6.5 was excessive for a man with high blood pressure. I did think of writing back and pointing out that, according to his nurse, I don’t actually have high blood pressure any more. Then I remembered that nobody likes a smartarse. But this really isn’t the sort of score I’m used to. In my schooldays I was one of those easily dislikeable (some things never change) kids who always got 9 or 10 out of 10. Well, except in maths and physics, obviously. And chemistry. And German. Luckily they didn’t hand out marks for gym, swimming, cross-country running or rugby.

So I did some research on a BUPA website (thinking that I’d get a better class of answer than from the NHS) and found that, in the cholesterol league table, you are supposed to score less than 5. I don’t know whether it is worth doing anything about it, given that I’m supposed to be dead in four years’ time anyway. What the doctor would like is for me to go back on statins, the universal wonder drug of the twenty-first century, but friends have given me off-putting accounts of the side-effects. Admittedly the worst of these was from a woman who claimed that all her husband’s muscles had wasted away. Hardly a big worry for me, as I haven’t actually got any muscles to start with.

My next shock revelation was the discovery that I have, for the first time, told an outright lie in this blog. On Tuesday I wrote that my usual newspaper column had been replaced by one written by a 14-year-old schoolgirl. Then someone wrote a letter agreeing with it (something that never happens to me), in the course of which they referred to the author several times as “he”. I chuckled at this howler, then began to wonder why the paper had not silently corrected it. Today, before embarking on a hilarious article about the confusion, I thought perhaps I should do a quick Google search. From which I quickly discovered that the person in question is, in fact, a 14-year-old schoolboy.

I dug the paper out and had another look at the picture which so misled me. He does bear an uncanny resemblance to a lesbian ex-client of mine, and appears to be wearing lipstick. He also devoted his column to musical theatre rather than boxing, cars or football, though at least he did not mention Judy Garland.

I don’t know where the poor kid goes to school but, if it is in Newcastle, I’d be prepared to bet that he does not have the easiest of times.

The unsuccessful experimentation involved using my breadmaking machine for the first time since 2005, judging by the use-by dates on all the ingredients in my cupboard. I’ve always treated these in a very cavalier fashion. Can flour actually go off? Perhaps not, but in case it is of some practical use, I can tell you that using yeast two years past its use-by date produces a loaf of truly astonishing density. It’s the black hole of granary loaves, probably more use as an offensive weapon than a means of sustenance. Though if you’re that way inclined, you’re probably better to go down the tried-and-tested Roald Dahl route and use a frozen leg of lamb. Disposing of the evidence will prove much more pleasurable, I am sure.

The mind-numbing labour involved getting the last of the mountain of logs in the back yard under cover. Now they will have to be loaded into baskets, stacked by the stove to dry out, and finally burned. Apparently using wood as a fuel ticks all the right environmental boxes. Even so, I can’t help wondering whether I am not approaching an age where I would be happier in a nice cosy flat with a nice cosy girlfriend and nice cosy underfloor heating.

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