Idle Eye 140 : The Blood Test

In May 2013, I made an appointment with a certain Dr Nunn for a routine blood test. Apparently you’re meant to do this sort of thing when the ratio of your years left on the planet versus years already used up, tips unfavourably towards the latter. I made light of any reasoning behind it, of course, suggesting that my request was purely investigative and of no great consequence. However, Dr Nunn is no fool. Looking straight past the saffron-tinted jellies through which I decipher the world and deep into the very core of my being, he offered me a seat next to the computer. Then he made me wait. For eons.

Time slows down to a crawl when you know you’ve been rumbled. The skinny document containing my records was theatrically scrutinised, and accusatory glances from over the top of his half-moon glasses were staged for maximum gravitas. I knew what was coming next:

Dr Nunn:  Smoker?

Me:  Er…Not really. The occasional puff, perhaps.

Dr Nunn:  How many?

Me:  Hmm…Depends on my week, I suppose! (laughs nervously)

Dr Nunn:  I’ll put you down for twenty. Sound about right?

Me:  Absolutely. (rapid blinking)

Dr Nunn:  What about alcohol? How many units per week?

Me:  Units? I’m not really sure, to be honest. How do you…

Dr Nunn:  Someone of your age should be looking at no more than one or two small glasses of wine a night. Preferably with breaks in between. The liver isn’t a miracle worker.

Me:  I see. I think it would be fair to say I do drink a little more than that. Not always, and I do try to keep it to…

Dr Nunn:  I need a straight answer. Or we’re both wasting each others time, aren’t we?

Me:  Yes, I’m sorry. Well, on the odd occasion it has been known for me to get through half a bottle of red wine in the evening, and sometimes a beer or two.

Dr Nunn:  How often?

(long pause)

Me:  Every night.

(long pause)

Dr Nunn:  No more than that?

(long pause)

Me:  No. (swallows)

Dr Nunn:  Right, I need you to come back next week. Give this in at reception, they’ll make another appointment for you.

Me:  Thanks very much for…

Dr Nunn:  Goodbye.

I looked down at the printout thrust into my hand. There, in a little box marked ‘Relevant Clinical Details’ was the evidence statisticians and the red tops pay top dollar for, no doubt to keep social pariahs such as myself out of the surgeries: ‘Screen: High Alcohol.’  And it works. Because I never went back. If half a bottle of pinot and a hop-based aperitif counts as alcohol abuse, my return visit would have seen Dr Nunn strapping me into some kind of detox seat, like Alex from A Clockwork Orange, forcing me to watch endless loops of waterfalls and Bavarian milkmaids until I recanted my feckless ways. Do me a favour…

Idle Eye 60 : The Programme

OK. I promise I won’t bang on about the grog-free month because it makes insufferable reading for those who haven’t chosen this particular path. The self-righteous whingeing of anyone who waves a sabre at their darkest demons is almost certain to leave them out in the cold from normal, decent people such as yourselves, and that’s as it should be. Why should you be subject to the dire documentation of denial, resentment, self-loathing and its ultimate salvation or worse, catastrophic failure that sucks the hapless victim into a vortex of misery and despair? It’s not like you haven’t had your own crosses to bear, is it? And look at you now, with your perfect lives and your perfect families, cruising through the years without a care in the world, enjoying every nuance as if they were delicious, home-cooked meals. Good on you. Fair play to you. You fought the good fight and now you’re reaping the rewards. Well done.

Anyway, it’s all going pretty nicely. Thanks for asking. It’s funny, you do hear these horror stories of people falling into a well of self-obsession and fury as they dry out, but I reckon you’re probably already a bit of a basket case to get that bad. To be honest, I really can’t see what all the fuss is about. I just get up, get on with my day and go to bed when it’s done. And if Nibs rings up and shouts at me for not making the posts more relevant to the Idle Hour, I just tend to laugh it off. It’s all part of the Programme. Highs and lows. Punishment/reward. So what’s the reward, I hear you asking? Well, it’s not what you think. I don’t do that stuff any more. Not this month, anyway. I don’t need to poison my body temple like you people. What you don’t realise is that every smug glug you throw down your necks after a long day knocks at least a week off at the other end. But you don’t care about that, do you? Of course you don’t.

Sorry, went a bit off-topic there. Where were we? Ah yes, the reward. Well, it turns out that by not drinking I’m not only becoming a better person, but I’m also saving quite a bit. And what better way is there to congratulate myself than to get a lovely gift? So I bought a new kettle from off of the internet. It’s practical, you see, because I can use it to make steaming hot drinks that don’t have any alcohol in them. And it looks good around the kitchen (I spent just that little bit extra) as well. I suppose you think that’s a bit boring, don’t you? Well, I knew you’d think that. How? Because it’s all part of the Programme. You think you’re so smart when actually you’re just totally predictable. It’s sad, really. Sad.


Idle Eye 33 : The Turgid Miasma of Existence

The eagle-eyed reader may have spotted that I’ve been off-piste of late. The only plausible explanation I can offer as an apology is that I have been suffering from what I like to think of as the turgid miasma of existence, and what everyone else refers to as everyday life. This somewhat disturbing development was almost certainly the result of a self-imposed complete alcohol ban on school nights, the oral equivalent of Michael Schumacher slamming on the handbrake in the last lap of the Monaco Grand Prix. For those of you who haven’t tried it yet (there must be a couple of you, own up), let me tell you this: It’s not great, and if you can bear with me as I reluctantly come to terms with the appalling lucidity I am currently experiencing, I shall attempt to tell you why.

The body is a delicate bit of kit. It’s also a bit dim, despite what you may have read in weightier tomes than this. From cradle to the grave it reacts to the various stimuli we hurl at it throughout the duration, but not all that quickly. So, when we bung in that first bottle of cider consumed in a field somewhere at the age of eleven, it rather smartly puts its foot down. So we try again with Captain Morgan and his chums, smiling enticingly at us from his Trinidadian retreat, only to regurgitate them all as quickly as they went in. And so the pattern continues until, eventually, it goes ‘Oh, I see what you’re trying to do here’ and concedes that this could actually be a bit of a laugh.

Education being the key, we continue to train the bag of bones we carry around with us for many, many years to come, as did Pavlov and his half-witted dog, until we come through the cloud layer and reach a perfect plateau of contentment, usually in ones’ mid-30’s. It takes a while but we get there in the end. Now, just imagine for one moment the seismic shock to the system if this process is suddenly reversed, and at a time when the body is getting its metaphorical slippers’n’pipe combo sorted. It doesn’t bear thinking about, does it? Exactly. Feel my pain.

So go on then, enjoy yourselves, why don’t you? Help Her Maj get through her big day by necking the good stuff until you can’t fit in no more, safe in the knowledge that the alternative is far, far worse. And for those of you down at the Idle Hour party this Saturday, watching them saucy singers Verity and Violet shaking their stuff and manhandling a massive pint of Nibs’s speciality Pimms, spare a thought for one less fortunate. A once good man trapped in the turgid miasma of his own existence, doing combat with his insubordinate innards with a glass of tap water and a stale bun. God bless you, Ma’am!