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.