I received an e-mail from “Grumpy reader” last week that complained about my column. She had apparently expected to read something “dry”. I must say this isn’t a criticism I have ever received in sixteen years of column writing but obviously one wants to try to please everybody so this week I hope “Grumpy reader” will sit back for a happy read as I deconstruct the results of the British election constituency by constituency. You can’t get much drier than that can you?
Two hours have passed since the first paragraph and no words have appeared on my computer screen. This is almost certainly because the subject of the British election is so dry and boring that it temporarily numbed my brain and gave me a massive dose of writer’s block. I wonder if “Grumpy reader” would settle for something a little less dry…maybe an analysis of the European agricultural policy from inception up until the present day. No….I’m afraid that’s not really working for me either so I’m going to have to run the very real risk of losing “Grumpy reader” forever. In a spirit of helpfulness I would direct him/her to the Government Gazette which may better suit his/her reading needs.
So back to frivolity. My wife has been urging me to go and have all sorts of medical check ups and blood tests. In fact, we’ve just returned from the dermatologist this morning and been checked out for cancerous moles. I came through with flying colours and had a couple of things burnt off so I am feeling very chipper. But this is not good enough for Mrs B. She wants me to go off and have all sorts of blood tests to determine, among other things, whether I have high cholesterol.
Now I understand that “knowing your numbers” is a sensible thing to do, particularly if you’re a bit on the chubby side and look as though you could have a heart attack or a stroke at any minute. But, apart from some manageable middle aged spread, I am not at all on the chubby side so can’t see why I would want to know my cholesterol level. If it’s high it will depress me and force me to give up egg and bacon and eat a diet which will lead to depression and a wholly different set of medical problems. If it’s on the low side then I needn’t have bothered.
As you get older there are so many more ways to die and you get the distinct feeling as you approach sixty that “Game Over” is flashing on life’s information screen. Inevitably some body part is going to go on the blink and even if it’s a knee replacement it reminds you that you can’t do things you did when you were younger. So why on earth would I want to go and have everything checked so just so that I can start worrying about what the doctor might find in a years time or, worse, what he might have missed this time around? And obviously a doctor is going to find something wrong with me because I am precisely at that stage of life where I need to be scared witless and relieved of large amounts of discretionary income for treatment. So, instead, I am going to buy a good medical dictionary and cheer myself up by eliminating all the conditions I know I don’t suffer from.