20 OCTOBER 1984, Page 41

Low life


Jeffrey Bernard

My body seems to have become more and more addicted to the Middlesex Hospital. Last Sunday I had to be admitted again to have a biopsy on a large lump which suddenly appeared in the mastoid region behind my left ear. From the Post-operative pain I can only surmise that they have removed half of my head as opposed to taking a mere sample of it. It Was the first time since my school days, Which I can't anyway remember, that I'd had a general anaesthetic, and I didn't like it. Added to which they gave me yet another local anaesthetic while I was out to the, world. During the whole so-called trivial business I was also on an insulin drip, dextrose.drip and a Hemanevrin drip. I had more tubes coming in and out of me than Piccadilly Circus. They seemed mildly surprised when later, after a large injection of Valium as a bonus, I collapsed twice on their marble floor despoiling it with one of their school dinners. I feel sure that these things do not happen in the London Clinic.

But the day started badly enough and I was full of foreboding when, walking to the Middlesex, I found a dead cat in a plastic carrier bag on the doorstep of my local butcher's shop. It was a little sinister. Could it have been an inside job or had some nasty person put it there as some sort of hint? Anyway, I arrived at the hospital and waited an interminable age to be seen by someone and so was obliged to read the 'posh' Sundays from cover to cover. You may imagine my horror when reading 'A Life in the Day of Rosie Swale' I came across the horrendous sentence: 'It's a brilliant feeling when my writing goes right — the greatest adrenalin booster in the world and better than any orgasm.'

Now I've never read any of Ms Swale's writings so I can't really tell or know what it's like when it goes right, but I've always been suspicious and envious of people who actually enjoy the loathsome task. But more to the point I'm extremely worried as to the quality of her orgasms. It all sounds

rather like a situation in which Jane Austen might have been writing in a ménage with Adolf Hitler. She also says, In the past I've relished my notoriety and-sexy image and I've had a great life because of it, but now I've reclaimed my body and only do what I want with it. Nobody's using me again.' Oh, lucky Ms Swale. The last thing I wanted to do was reclaim my body from the last person who laid hands on it and I do so hope someone uses me again. What I wonder about is Ms Swale's unnatural happiness which suffuses her Life in the Day. Just as. village idiots wear permanent grins I feel sure that constantly happy people are not concerned, never reflect and care very little. But good luck to her. I shall continue to be propelled by angst. Neither, unlike Ms Swale, is my idea of heaven to eat, then curl up in front of the fire in the arms of the man I love, listen to music and play with the dogs. I could possibly curl up in the arms of a dog if I had one and play with the man I love if Lester Piggott would permit it but I'd never be able to concentrate on the music.

What's always puzzled me is how the Sunday Times finds such innocuous people to feature. Is there a section headed 'Benign' in the Yellow Pages? All these people wake up in the morning and have a cup of tea or coffee apparently and then think about the next chapter of their book. No one, it seems, wakes up to the spine- chilling and persistently commanding ring of the door bell to find they've run out of

both tea and coffee and are therefore unable to entertain the Inland Revenue. They always take their children to school, since they're never divorced, and then they work on their books until lunchtime in- stead of staring at blank paper until open- ing time.

One of the questions they asked me at the Middlesex before they trepanned me was had I ever been jaundiced. I said yes, 15 years ago. I forgot to tell them it was a chronic condition. But I've opted for this mess instead of sailing around the world single-handed, collecting owls and doing all the other things people do in their Lives in the Day of; and the programme Opin- ions. which goes out. on 23 November on Channel 4 in which I've said just why should suitably disgust you if you're up at 11.15 p.m. watching telly and not curled up with your fire, stroking your man and planning your next chapter.

But enough of this nonsense: The Mid- dlesex's generosity with drugs is forcing me yet again to my bed.