Self Ex­am­i­na­tion

Esquire (UK) - - Editor's Letter -

When young, the male of the species pon­ders sex ev­ery seven sec­onds and can­cer hardly at all; but with the years, the two pre­oc­cu­pa­tions grad­u­ally swap places, un­til you ac­tu­ally have can­cer, which is a very un­sexy state of af­fairs in­deed.

I next thought about rup­tures and her­nias — and all the slightly tacky hu­mour that once clung to these mal­for­ma­tions — and took on the ma­te­rial form of the truss. I re­alise many younger read­ers will have no idea what a truss is, or was. But let me as­sure you, in my youth, I would ac­tu­ally see fel­low sports­men, um, sport­ing these odd ar­range­ments of pads and straps, the ob­jec­tive of which is to press the pro­lapsed stom­ach back into the in­guinal canal from which it has emerged.

If I sound rather ex­pert on such mat­ters, it’s be­cause I am: I was born with an in­guinal her­nia and spent the first few weeks of my life — as my mother never ceased to re­mind me — in a sort of cage-cum-cot in Char­ing Cross Hos­pi­tal, where they op­er­ated on my bulging groin. Around 30 per cent of men will suf­fer a her­nia at some point in their lives, so I think it only proper that I should warn you horsey es­quires that vig­or­ous trot­ting can of­ten in­duce one. The con­di­tion is also hered­i­tary, as I learned when my el­dest son was a tod­dler.

One day, this nor­mally hyper­ac­tive mite — al­ways run­ning up and down shout­ing — be­gan to lan­guish and fell omi­nously silent. Chang­ing his nappy I reared back in alarm: there was a lump the size of a quail’s egg in his dear lit­tle groin! I rushed him straight to A&E at the lo­cal hos­pi­tal, where he was ex­am­ined by a rather oleagi­nous doc­tor. The medic made a pis­tol-shape with his in­dex and fore­fin­ger and, with no pre­am­ble, thrust this weapon deep into my beloved baby’s groin! I swear there was an au­di­ble “Pop!” as the stom­ach lin­ing re­tracted and within min­utes the child was back to his nor­mal sunny self.

But there was no such joy for me yes­ter­day: my GP also made a pis­tol-shape and probed — but re­as­sur­ing “Pop!” came there none.

“What do you think it is?” I ven­tured, tim­o­rously. “I’ve no idea,” he replied, in­sou­ciantly.

“Do you think it might be a small ef­figy of Nigel Farage, sewn into my groin overnight by highly skilled sur­geons with a per­verse and prank­ish sense of hu­mour?” I fol­lowed up, face­tiously.

“As I’ve said,” he re­joined, snap­pishly, “I’ve no idea. But I want you to have an emer­gency scan so we can find out.”

Well, if “Rail Re­place­ment Ser­vice” are the three

The groin — in com­mon with the cleav­age and the armpit

— is less a body part in its own right than a cross­roads, or waysta­tion, one we pass through en route to the delights ei­ther side

most de­press­ing words in the English lan­guage, “emer­gency scan” are two of the most fright­en­ing ones. Last night, turn­ing and turn­ing some more, I fix­ated woe­fully on the lump… I mean, to die like this? With the mal­ady be­gin­ning in the groin? That part of the body which is at once deeply erotic and faintly… ab­surd. For what is the groin if not a hinge for the leg and a fram­ing de­vice for the gen­i­tals which hang from its in­cised vee.

The groin — in com­mon with the cleav­age and the armpit — is less a body part in its own right than a cross­roads, or way-sta­tion, one we pass through en route to the delights ei­ther side. True, the groin can be eroti­cised, and even adapted to form a sort of er­satz ori­fice. Such sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties are dubbed “in­ter­cru­ral” — you heard it here first.

Any­way, as if all this weren’t groiny enough, Bill-the-Home­less came by this morn­ing for a cuppa, a fag and a handout. A chronic in­tra­venous drug ad­dict, Bill’s been in and out of cen­tral Lon­don’s St Thomas’s Hos­pi­tal all sum­mer, re­cov­er­ing af­ter a fix in his femoral artery went badly wrong, and he ended up with sep­ti­caemia. Yes, yes: the femoral artery, in his groin. Junkies go for ar­ter­ies when their veins have re­treated from the nee­dle’s probe and the eas­i­est one to hit is in the groin.

As we sipped our Nescafé, we dis­cussed our mu­tual woes: two men, sep­a­rated by class, wealth, pathol­ogy and priv­i­lege, yet joined to­gether by the same body part. Brothers-in­groin, you might say.

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