‘My eyes were watering and the windows fogged’

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YEARS of tight deadlines and demanding editors take their toll on a poor humble hack like me, and as a result I now suffer from high blood pressure.

Nothing to do with the amount of pies and beer I have consumed or the chronic lack of exercise. Just other people’s fault you see.

Now that I have your sympathy can I tell you that I also suffer from ‘white coat syndrome’?

This means that when I go to the doctor to have my blood pressure taken I get anxious when I see the nurse or doctor’s white coat and therefore my blood pressure goes up. I also have Ola Jordan Syndrome, with much the same effect, but doctors have yet to find a cure.

Last week, someone told me the perfect way to get around this problem. Down at the doctor’s they have a test-your-own blood pressure machine. After you have played on the ‘enter your date of birth then find there is no record of your appointment’ machine, you can turn left and go through the foldy-back brown doors to the small room beyond.

All you do is sit in front of the machine in the corner, plunge your arm into a hole like Peter Duncan in Flash Gordon and away you go.

But of course dear reader, nothing is ever so simple for The Thamensian ...

As I walked in a lady was already in the room with a baby gurgling merrily away on the table in front of her. The room doubles as a baby changing room you see and it was too late to politely back out and walk away. I didn’t want to be there. She didn’t want me there. Only the baby was unaware of the peculiarly English embarrassment going on around it.

Gamely I kept my eyes on the instructions (for the machine, not the baby, silly) but there was something else in the room which was impossible for any of the three of us to ignore. “Oh dear” said the mother “that is a bit of a stinky one.”

Bit of a stinky one? My eyes were watering and the windows were fogging up. How could a little baby create such a pong?

Even worse, it was making me annoyed and raising my blood pressure. The machine printed out the results of my test and they were sky high. So I did it again while the baby stared at me and his mother packed things up. Still high. I waited while they left the room but by then I was beaten.

So I did what any respectable gentleman would do. I picked up a result slip that someone else had dropped earlier, wrote my name on the back and handed it in with a merry ‘see you next month’. Job done and my blood pressure has never been so healthy. Thanks baby.