Tuesday 14 July 2009

The cold digit of fate

14st 13½ lb, 4.0 units. After a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep I set off for an 8.30 appointment with my doctor, aiming to check out a few of those characteristically old mannish symptoms I have been suffering of late. Anyone who has ever had his prostate gland examined will understand me when I say that this did not make for the best possible start to the day for either of us. But I made an interesting discovery. Apparently the PSA blood test that is the best indicator of prostate cancer cannot be performed after a rectal examination, or if the patient has had sexual intercourse during the previous 48 hours. A Clinton-like exploration of what exactly my doctor meant by “sexual intercourse” produced the blunt correction “I should have asked whether you have ejaculated”, clearly not meaning an outburst of “I say!” on reading about Gordon Brown’s latest outrage on the front page of the Daily Telegraph.

A little later I had an appointment with the practice nurse for a routine blood pressure check and blood tests for cholesterol, glucose and the like. I shared my new-found knowledge with her and she said “Well I never knew that, and I’ve been taking blood for PSA tests for years.” Then she blushed slightly as it dawned on her that “Now I’m going to have ask people before I take them.” Someone else’s day ruined, and it wasn’t even 9.15 yet.

Late this afternoon we drove back to Cheshire. I had decided to avoid Newcastle by taking the scenic cross-country route through Thropton, Elsdon and Otterburn to the A68. Only, when we got there, we were greeted by a yellow sign reading “A68 south closed” and suggesting a diversion that began by heading north. This was so counter-intuitive that I just followed my instinct and headed straight on to Bellingham, which eventually brought us to Chollerford via Wark. Despite this diversion down unfamiliar roads we reached Chester on schedule, with my morale boosted by a decisive 18-5 victory in the Stobbo/Nobbo lorry spotting game with which we enlivened the journey. My hope is that this process of dumbing down on our side, and clueing up by The Baby, will lead to a perfect meeting of minds when he is about three. Though, of course, extrapolation of the curves suggests that he will regard us as a pair of utterly contemptible morons by the time he is six, at the very latest.

We had pre-ordered chicken kebabs from the local Iranian takeaway for supper, after which I caught a glimpse of one of our younger and more attractive neighbours standing naked in her bedroom window as I took The Dog for a final walk. Life, I reflected, really does not get much better than this.

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