Ive been in some pretty horrible situations in my time,
but lying on that operating table last week ranks right down there with the lowest
To say it was unspeakable is a funny way of putting
it, because I couldnt even speak for an hour after they wheeled me out and
I can assure you they were nowhere near my tonsils.
never meant Sober Life to be a diatribe against drinking and smoking and
other excesses, but I think I can now say that you dont half pay for it
My day had come and Ive almost forgotten
half of it. I got in a warm bath as soon as I got home and it was only then I
saw what the nurse had been doing with a razor down there.
least theres no chance of finding a paper clip in my pubic hair for the
next month or two, whether I get to sleep with a secretary or not.
to think of it, it reminds me of when I used to drink inappropriately, because
thats when you only remember the bad bits and then only about half of them.
kind nurse asked me if there was any particular music I would like playing as
I lay, as T.S. Eliot said, like a patient anaesthetised upon a table.
love that muse of his called the Waste Land and I used to read it aloud each time
I attempted to stop drinking and I really like that line about growing old and
wearing the bottoms of your trousers rolled. My pyjamas came from a charity shop
for three quid (or should I say two Euros?) and I know just how he felt. I dont
think he was only referring to the parts of your garments that merely cover your
nether regions, but its a strange sensation, losing track of them (the regions)
even for what turns out to be a forgettable time).
one of the awful moments, it seemed as though the nurse, who was of an uncertain
age, was asking me to choose my requiem and thats supposed to be music for
the dead. She didnt understand when I told her this. So I opted for Van
Morrisons Beautiful Vision and then closed my eyes dead tight shut.
went on for the next ten minutes and I havent a clue what it was, except
it was what I imagine it feels like to have a six-inch nail hammered into your
groin, accompanied by blinding flashes of light and a distinct sensation as though
youve wet yourself, or worse, and even worse than that was that it felt
molten. I dont remember whether Van Morrison or I moaned and groaned the
But I do remember being slithered off the operating
table leaving what looked like a pint of Red Bull and vodka in a broad streak
as they poured me onto a trolley.
The nurse with the mind
of a disc jockey murmured in my ear that I had done very well, but I dont
think I did anything and later I was relieved to see I hadnt.
by the way, is what I call nursing. In its purest sense it should be about comforting,
because they cant take the pain away but they can sure as Hell make you
feel its not your fault.
At the risk of outraging
at least one of my best friends, I have to say that a lot of the nurses seemed
more concerned about skiving, about doing just as much as they had to be seen
to be doing.
But once, just that once, the opaquely-false
praise whispered when I was at my Nadir, restored to me something of the majesty
of the profession and a belief that I was alright really.
now understand why a friend of mine has refused to have something surgical done
involving a camera and an orifice. His refusal could actually be life threatening,
but he is steadfast in his certainty that he is just not prepared to go through
the degradation again.
Im going to carry on and I
will go back for the follow-up treatment, not very different from what Ive
You see, unlike my friend, I at least know
of a nurse who will play Van Morrison to me and tell me Ive done well.
Sydney the cat appears to be alive and well. He always ignores me for a day or
two when Ive been away, like a cuckolded wife. In view of the fact that
youve had to read all this awful stuff about my bodily parts and have got
this far, I might as well also tell you that hes been sick on my desk.