I am now of an age when my contemporaries appear to be falling apart.
Teeth are falling out and not being replaced because of the expense, meaning soup becomes a compromise starter and without crusty bread or even croutons.
Hair is thinning of course or deserting heads completely and again not being replaced. And now even joints that were creaking are giving up completely and with no option but to be replaced.
Golf buggies are now an expensive on-cost for my buddies – as men heave themselves about the course (slowly) discussing their various ailments as a way to explain away their abject game.
It’s a peculiar thing being told by a friend that they require a new hip. A mixture of concern for their welfare but also some pride (even glee) at my own apparent good health. I might ask them for their symptoms, to show interest and kindness but also as a way to check my own skeletal rigour and reserves of cartilage.
Just for record, I remain a complete original. As born, as it were, apart from some metal in my teeth and in my ankle and I hope that this is set to continue for the foreseeable. I have no old sporting injuries to contend with and I am not so heavy to be putting undue strain on my knees and joints – or am I?
Because last week I met with an old school teacher – a double hipper, just like my dad had been and immediately I began my own orthopaedic audit.
‘How old are you?’ I asked, which is not an impertinent question when two men are discussing hips.
7 years older than me which is not so many years and he’s not heavy either, so maybe I should be concerned. Indeed, my smug days might be about to end as I begin to clutch at straws. Perhaps he has played lots of heavy hitting team sports like football and rugby?
Then he tells me that his first hip was fitted when he was only 52 – an age in my distant past and this gives me further pause for thought. Immediately, I think of all the cod liver oil capsules I have purchased but never consumed. And then he hits me with a question that rocks me…
“Do you get uncomfortable on a long drive? That’s a sure sign that your hips are packing up.”
This week, Paddy has been doing work experience at a place in London with a tricky destination, requiring two trains and a bus. A choice then… a journey of more than 90 minutes without a guaranteed seat or an hour in our car (with a seat) with either of his parents – little wonder he chose the latter.
Over an hour in my car then with stop start traffic on London’s recently condensed road system to accommodate the new and largely deserted cycle lanes, tempers are frayed with lots of beeps, horns and angry gesticulations. And adding to my stress is the notion that my hips might be failing.
Because as I sit in the interminable traffic, I can’t seem to get comfortable. My haunches are aching as this guy’s oblique question nags at me. It might be psychosomatic of course, whereby I am imagining any aches as I try to find a more comfortable driving position in my usually very comfortable car.
Back at home, life continues in a familiar vein when I cannot find any cod liver oil capsules at all. Bloody typical. I am unlikely to have thrown them out and no one else is taking responsibility or knows where they might be.
‘Just vanished then?’
I buy some more and I grumble at the price without much thought for the poor old cod fish which is presumably furious that’s its liver is so highly prized.
Then another friend calls me in the week with more bad news – he needs a heart pace maker…
This guy is a little older than me, much richer and is largely retired with a family that have all left home.
‘Avoid stress’ he advises me glibly without reckoning on who he is talking to. I am definitely not retired and my job of being a stand-up comedian is most people’s worst nightmare.
After I finish writing this writing, I have a long drive to a gig where a thousand people are waiting for me and my jokes.
My first gig in weeks, I will arrive with sore hips, a dry mouth and a racing heart.
It’s a wonder I am alive at all and able to write this blog – let alone do the bloody gig.
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