I’ve just booked my train tickets for my venture up to the north east of England tomorrow.
With hospitality courtesy of my brother Ian and his fiancée Ann, in addition to an evening imbibing beer in the company of affable friends, it’s a welcome diversion from the less salubrious elements de l’existence de Gary Strachan.
The gathering in Gateshead has been organised to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. If it follows the usual proceedings with these guys, the itinerary will be a weekend ritual shared by of many groups of pentagenarians….. That being beer, piss taking, chat of creativity, disagreements about football, agreements about football, the amiability of your pharmacist and the merits of Covonia cough mixture.
As we’ve all gradually passed into the portal of mid-age, health issues have taken a higher profile in the group banter. Being a competitive bunch, on occasion an element of illness severity one-upmanship prevails during our health discussions.
As if playing a game of NHS ‘Top Trumps’, our ailments are laid bare, graded for severity, mobility impact assessed and medication compared. At the end of the evening the least healthy is awarded the prize of a kebab and a ‘2 for 1’ cardiac arrest voucher.
As the years swiftly proceed, like a vegetarian heron swooping on an unsuspecting cabbage, the ailment chats continue throughout the day until our shadows lengthen with the setting sun.
That is, apart from one of the lads who bizarrely doesn’t cast a shadow and no longer requires a seat in the pub as he hovers. I suspect he’s just going all out to win the free kebab and the ‘2 for 1’ cardiac arrest voucher by pretending he’s a ghost.
He doesn’t fool this band of reprobates, though, as a real ghost wouldn’t proffer “Bloody hell I’m glad I’ve brought my fleece as it’s flipping freezing out there!” or drink Uncle Frank’s real ale (they prefer Guinness).
For a 50th birthday present, I’ve bought Tim a ‘speak your blood pressure’ machine. This measures your blood pressure (BP), prior to verbally providing health advice such as “Blood pressure all good today!”, “I’d put that pint down if I were you!” or “I’d stick to just the one cigar a day Ms Lewinsky!”.
The instruction booklet recommends if, after taking your BP, the machine starts speed dialling the ambulance service you should “Hastily pack an overnight bag and put the cat out!”
If it starts speed dialling the ambulance service when you haven’t had your BP taken, the monitor will ask you which tunes you want at your funeral, along with a request to be bequeathed to a private medicine provider, as ‘They’ve a better class of patient!’
I bought my brother Ian one of these ‘Speak your blood pressure’ monitors for his 50th birthday. He apparently doesn’t use it though, as it still hasn’t sobered up since he last attached it to his arm in May 2015.
As my own talking blood pressure monitor has recommended “Don’t leave your packing until the last minute.”, I’m going to bring this inanity to a conclusion…… Now where’s my weekend bag and chargers for the various electronic devices I’m taking?
2 kids who've flown the nest, 1 wife whose flown with Jet2. Born at a young age in 1960's Leeds, the author became interested in the literary life when his wife bought him a dog. Having an allergy to dogs, he swapped it for a typewriter. Being unable to train the typewriter to retrieve tennis balls, he reluctantly turned to writing...... Website - www.writesaidfred.org