Tuesday 7 February 2012

The life-changing alternative to a romantic Valentine's dinner

I am sure that when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully, just as Dr Johnson observed.
Though the regrettable abolition of capital punishment in the UK, even for treason, piracy and arson in Her Majesty’s dockyards, sadly prevents me from putting his theory to a practical test.

However, I know from personal experience that there comes a tipping point when any prediction of lifespan stops offering reassurance and becomes a threat.

When I was a small boy a gypsy lady knocked on our door selling clothes pegs and lucky heather. I cannot imagine that my mother departed from the habit of a lifetime by actually buying anything, but the encounter ended with the gypsy grabbing my mother’s hand and assuring her that she was a lovely lady who would live to be 82.

An image of a gipsy fortune teller has been removed to avoid potential charges (financial, not criminal) from the money-grubbing image copyright police.

Mum was initially cheered by this, because her parents had died aged 60 and 63. But when she reached 80, and particularly 81, it became the source of increasing concern. It concentrated her mind all right, though not on anything positive.

Spookily, or self-fulfillingly, 20 years ago last month the prophecy proved absolutely correct.

Demonstrating that good old-fashioned Romany fortune-tellers are a great deal more reliable than the Internet, which forecast that I would be handing in my dinner pail last Saturday.

A last outing for this dear old favourite, now sadly abandoned as my Twitter avatar

True, I always knew that I could buy myself an extra 30 years of life by simply switching my tick from the “pessimistic” box to “optimistic”. But how could someone who has been “a glass three quarters empty – and with a really nasty-looking foreign object at the bottom” man all his life be expected to tell such a thumping lie?

I kept telling myself that it was all a bit of harmless fun until I developed a mysterious lump on my jaw last month, and was referred for various hospital tests. This convinced me that I was indeed on the way out. However, I prudently confined myself to betting my wife £50 that I was dying, rather than squandering my life savings, giving away all my belongings or commissioning a fine memorial.

A number of people diagnosed with terminal cancer have famously gone down the latter route, only to find themselves trying to sue their local health authority for compensation when it later turned out that they were not dying after all.

I'm not making it up: one disgruntled man who was wrongly diagnosed with terminal cancer

I guessed I was in the clear when the lump miraculously vanished shortly before its scheduled biopsy. So now I am embracing life with a new spring in my step, while ever conscious that Fate is probably waiting just around the corner, toying with a sock full of wet sand.

Perhaps in the shape of the 100% increase in my complement of sons, expected a week today.

My last column was sadly misinformed in believing that our Wednesdays-only breech baby turnaround expert was a bloke, and that he achieved success in 60% of cases. In fact we saw a charming lady, who cheerily admitted to a success rate of just 40%, which the determinedly stubborn Jamie Hann swiftly pushed towards 39%.

So Mrs Hann followed medical advice and booked herself a Caesarean section, much against her inclinations. Which at least allowed us to choose the date of the birth. I lobbied strongly for February 29, so that we would only have to buy him a birthday present every fourth year, but apparently he cannot be kept waiting that long.

The hospital recommended February 13, but Mrs Hann superstitiously demurred. And so we ended up with a scheduled delivery on Valentine’s Day. This will save me from buying a romantic dinner not only in 2012 but every year for the rest of my life, since no doubt we will be hosting a kiddies’ birthday party instead.

No more Valentine's Day dinners: such a blow

Already my newly extended life is looking up very nicely.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1 comment:

CC said...

Poor you. Nothing seriously wrong and a reasonable possibility of surviving to meet your grandchildren and beyond.
Certainly hope so.
However, Mrs. Hann has all my sympathies.
Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.