c. Mengele b. Shipman

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July 31, 2012 by Jake Cantona

Either the wallpaper goes or I do[1]

I have spent most of the month of July lying on my back ticking off the hours until I can ingest my next helping of pharmaceutical wonder. This has become an almost annual event, predictably coinciding with times of high stress and physical overexertion. Or, as in, 2005, the need to get a couple of weeks free to watch the conclusion of the Ashes series[2].

“Your back”, my doctor said, “is your Achilles heel”. Which even when allowing for metaphor, was some way short of the physiological accuracy I was expecting from him.

To be fair, he then went on to explain, as he often does, exactly what had happened when that bolt of searing pain had shot upwards like an gunpowder enema[3]. After several minutes, and to snap me back from wherever my attention had wandered, he ended his discourse by asking “so, have you played much cricket this summer?”

“No,” I replied, “I can’t swim”.

In my experience you can divide male doctors between those who play cricket and drink whisky and those who play golf and drink whisky[4]. Now while I have normally got on better with the drunken cricketing quacks, my current GP (who is excellent) not only looks like a man who might only partake of a small sherry at Christmas, he also keeps a putter and a ball-trap in his consulting room. The putter might, of course, be for use in sedating the more difficult patients on his list, or in negotiating with the medical centre manager, who is a fire-breathing harpy from the land of dragons[5].

My doctor was also generous enough to sign-off a repeat prescription for the medication[6] over the phone to save me from hobbling down to the surgery grimacing and writhing like something from 28 Days Later[7], startling dogs and frightening children on my merry way. Presumably this means that the necessary trust in the doctor/patient relationship is alive and well or that he’s using the time freed up by this to work on curing his golfing yips.

In my blessed-out, chemically-induced, state-funded NHS oblivion, I undertook a series of bizarre meditative drifts through the ruins of my internal landscape. Which is a rather pretentious way of saying I spent most of the time daydreaming. Slightly mad, hallucinatory daydreams which generally started off with me trying to remember whether  the recycling needed to be put out this week, meandered on towards wondering whether if I’d be able to reach the phone when the England selectors called to inform me of my selection for the first test against South Africa[8], called briefly at my plans for the nationalisation of all public transport[9] and ended up in various time travelling scenarios, the best of which involved taking a Chieftain tank to the battle of Hastings. Certainly gave those cheese-eating surrender monkeys one helluva shock.

Reality, in my absence, has seen a Scotsman lose Wimbledon, an Englishman win the Tour de France and Danny Boyle seemingly show that he’s taken more drugs than anyone would have credited.

Perhaps when I’ve properly come round I’ll regret having missed these things, but for the meantime I’m happy enough with a doctor who prescribes such wonderfully deranging concoctions, even though he couldn’t set a decent field to a slow left-armer if his life depended on it[10].


[1] This is a deathbed quotation attributed to Oscar Wilde. Along with the title of this blog, it’s ended up a bit out of place as things changed during the writing, but I can’t be arsed to change it now.

[2] Brilliantly chronicled in the book “Is it Cowardly to Pray for Rain”

[3] Not that I have tried one. Slightly off-topic, a former colleague charged with organising the fitness of a works football team once sent out an email to the squad hectoring us with the order “bum shandys all round!” A bum shandy being, as I discovered when I plucked up the courage to ask, being a coffee enema. I didn’t try that one either.

[4] Female doctors being divided between those you’d have to drink whisky to sleep with and those you could manage sober and fully compos mentis.

[5] Wales. Or Middle Earth. I sometimes get the two confused.

[6] Codeine, Diazapam, Diclofenac. The chemical equivalent of three bells on a one-armed bandit.

[7] Or Britain’s Got Talent

[8] And the obvious dilemma of whether I’d tell them I wasn’t fit. Never stopped Botham, mind.

[9] Including rickshaws and segways

[10] Well, neither can my fucking captain.

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