Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Pain Down Below -- A True Story of Celebrity Life

The office of the Richard&Judy Foundation (Northern Branch) sits mid-way down an otherwise undistinguished street in the heart of Manchester’s Gay Chinese District. We sit up on the first floor and our windows look out onto an alley where you will find the world’s smallest college (an office staffed by a woman with a moustache), one discarded trainer stuck on a pigeon encrusted ledge, a herbal tobacconists, and the rear doors of a Turkish restaurant. There’s rarely an hour in the day when the office isn’t heavy with the aroma of rich spices and fried animal carcasses, making it one of the few workplaces where even the non-smokers take regular breaks to go stand outside the building in order to catch themselves a breathe or two of ungreased air.

Such was the case this afternoon when the aromas became too much for me. I called a halt to work on ‘Eye of the Storm 8’ and I went downstairs to get beneath the cloud of slowly grilling donkey steaks and broiled mutton. You might think it an insignificant moment in my day. I did nothing more taxing than to walk up and down the pavement, occasionally shift the change in my pocket, brush back my mop, or jot a witty thought or two in my notebook. Nothing worthy of a blog post. That is, nothing until I shifted a particularly heavy handful of loose silver and felt a pain shoot across my groin. Locating it more exactly via Google Maps would put it at that point where my leg becomes something more special, to the left of the bald eagle, slightly to the front of my inner thigh, and right where a fifty pence piece was squeezed between a pair of humbugs. If there was such a thing, the spot would be on my forward facing buttock and it was in some exquisite agony of pain.

At first I feared rupture. It’s something I worry about all the time so I was well drilled in what to do. A quick inspection, looking for any swellings the size of snooker balls, and I realised that there was no red hiding behind my pink. I knew then that it was probably a torn groin muscle, the same injury I’ve seen footballers suffer many times. Just this morning, I read that Steven Gerrard has withdrawn from the England team complaining of the same thing. Only he hadn’t got his escaping from the stench of a lamb casserole.

I slowly made my way back to the office where news of my injury was received with little sympathy and a great deal of amusement. I slipped into the bathroom and from the toilet’s lonely cubicle called Judy on my mobile. She knows everything there is to know about muscle injuries having treated many a miniature pony for sprains and twisted leg ligaments. No sooner had I described the pain before Dr. Judy made her diagnosis.

‘I think you’ve thrown a bollock,’ she said.

I was struck dumb. Not with the thought that I might well have done myself a serious injury as much as shock at hearing Judy talk so openly about the male anatomy.

I calmed myself before I replied. ‘I don’t think I’ve thrown a bollock,’ I said. ‘I was hoping that you’d confirm that it’s a groin strain.’

‘Oh Richard! In the equestrian field, it’s known as throwing a bollock and I think that’s definitely what’s happened. You need to get yourself something cold to put on it. I suggest you get down the nearest supermarket and buy yourself a bag of frozen peas.’

And this, my kind, dear, considerate readers , is how I found myself venturing out into public without my disguise, hobbling through the centre of Manchester in search of the nearest Sainsburys.

It was a long walk as I took small, slow steps, and I’m still not sure how I made it. I must have been in a bad way because I was only in the supermarket’s freezer section about a minute before an assistant came up to me. I suppose it was obvious that I was in pain, grasping at the cold meat section and muttering curses at Ainsley Harriot’s face peering up at me from the pork sausages.

‘I’m after peas,’ I managed to say.

‘Certainly sir,’ she replied. ‘And what kind of peas do you want?’

‘In a bag,’ I gasped.

‘Yes, well, we sell lots of peas in bags...’

‘Frozen.’

‘We sell an excellent choice of peas. We have petits pois, sugar snap peas, marrowfats, garden peas, hand shelled peas, mange tout, processed peas, chick peas, chick peas in water, organic chick peas, mushy peas, split peas...’

‘Any of them,’ I said as my groin painfully went into spasm.

‘Well, unless sir explains what kind of peas he’s after...’

‘Look,’ I snapped. ‘I don’t give a fig what sort of peas they are. Can’t you see that I’ve thrown a bollock!?’

I suppose I cried this a little too loudly. I soon felt a security guard brushing up against my side.

‘What seems to be the trouble?’ asked the three hundred pounds of unstrained muscle.

‘Won’t you just get me a bag of peas?’ I pleaded.

‘I was asking him what sort of peas he wants,’ explained the assistant so far unwilling to give me assistance. ‘Then he started to talk dirty about... well, you know. About his testices.’

‘Testices!’ I laughed or cried, depending on your attitude towards tears rolling down a grown man’s face. ‘You mean testicles. And I just want frozen...’

It was an explanation too late. Say what you like about the lack of gentility in this day and age but I suppose it’s good to know that a man can’t start talking about these things in a frozen vegetable section of the local supermarket. With hindsight, it was wrong of me to say those things and I’m fully behind the hand that gripped my arm and dragged my body forward. Lagging somewhere behind my body were my legs, and then trailed my groin. Every inch of the march to the manager’s office was agony. And let me assure you that behind the bald eagle, there are plenty of Madeley inches to feel pain.

Five minutes later, I was sitting before the manager. Sweat was dripping from my forehead as I tried to sit comfortably with a heavily damaged groin/forward facing buttock.

‘Now look here,’ began the manager, ‘I won’t allow you to abuse my staff.’

I looked up. My feverish brow probably not adding to any favourable impression.

‘I am in agony,’ I said. ‘I just want something cold to put down my trousers.’ He gave me a look so I thought it best if I explained. ‘I’ve pulled my groin,’ I said and proceeded to describe the site of the injury, the character of the pain, and the frequency of the spasms.

He sucked his teeth. ‘Sounds like you’ve thrown a bollock,’ he said. ‘Best thing for you is a bag of peas.’ He patted my arm. I had found a fellow who understood my suffering. ‘Or even better, some large runner beans. They’ll last longer than peas. Long enough to get you home...’

Well they lasted a good time. Peas are good but beans are clearly better. I’m now lying in bed, trying not to move as I have a pack of Harrod’s Finest Frozen Broccoli on my lap. I also have another day’s work ahead of me and a groin that’s ready to pop at any moment. You want to know what it’s like being ‘A’ list celebrity. It’s no different to being run of the mill. It’s just that the frozen vegetables are better.

5 comments:

Welsh Girl said...

I suspect it is the weight of the bald eagle that has done it. Maybe you should have gone for a more lightweight bird?

Barbara said...

Maybe it was the talons? You need a gauntlet glove for your groin next time.

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