15 APRIL 1995, Page 47

Low life

Teasing an amputee

Jeffrey Bernard

Ihave been feeling very low recently about my missing leg. When I dream, I still have it, although it is now 14 months since it was cut off. And now, this morning, I received a let- ter from the Inland Revenue that tells me they wish to amputate £27,000 from my cur- rent account. It is a bad joke, but a joke of sorts. There certainly isn't anything in this flat to make it worthwhile kir the bailiffs to come in, grab it and put it up for sale. But I wouldn't be surprised if Mrs Bottomley hasn't got a little man up her sleeve who could find an outlet for my wheelchair. but, as I say, it is the vacancy in my right trouser leg that is getting me down at the moment.

My tailor, Paul, has just telephoned to tell me that the two pairs of trousers I have ordered from him will be ready after Easter but that he is not going to bother to come along and give me a fitting. But maybe the severest cut of all came from an extremely attractive 26-year-old girl who is coming to see me this evening.

The other day, a propos of nothing, she complained to me that she had not had sex for 11 months. Why tell me? Or has it got to the stage where I have become so paranoid about no longer looking like a heart-throb that I take almost every woman to be an inadvertent teaser. I should go and live in Ireland. I knew a stud manager there who was nicely sentimental about the teaser he employed. For the benefit of readers who do not know, a teaser is a clapped out colt who sniffs around the mare to see if she is in sea- son. The teaser's reaction, of course, tells you if she is and he is then led away so that the stallion can take over and so get two legs over. The psychological wear and tear on that poor old tease( must have been awful but the sentimental manager allowed him to cover one wreck of a mare at the end of every season.

There are any amount of human parallels to that story and it is a book I read from cover to cover years ago taking a rather dim view of the unhappy ending. I am not paral- ysed from the waist down only from the neck up and it was good to see when I read some Beryl Bainbridge last week, I am not the only person who is almost dedicated to the past. But even an unpleasant past is prefer- able to a very silly Hollywood fantasy.

Last week I watched a bit of nonsense starring Jon Voigt as a disabled Vietnam vet- eran and Jane Fonda — wouldn't you believe? — as the voluntary worker on his ward. It must help a lot to look like Jon Voigt and I am well aware of the fact that I don't and in the 20-odd times that I have been hospitalised in the past 30 years I have never been spoon-fed by anyone who could stir my loins, never mind the Middlesex Hos- pital porridge. I wonder what on earth Hol- lywood movies would be like if all the stars looked as dim as the rest of us pottering about with our boring, little lives.

The nearest I get to star-gazing these days, now that Joan Crawford and Veronica Lake are dead, is when Vera sounds reveille. I wish the woman from Home Care sounded the Last Post so blithely but she has become a depressive since the invention of the National Lottery. She is at last beginning to realise that the enormous odds of 14 million to one against her winning are a reality and, like a lot of other people, she was too pes- simistic to take the 40-1 against Royal Ath- lete to win the Grand National. I have mixed feelings about that race. The horse is a mar- vellous old servant but his trainer, Mrs Jenny Pitman, is one of the more unpleasant peo- ple I have met in racing and reminds me of a manatee who employs a blind milliner.