As I was making my way along the footpath to the doctors’ surgery I looked up and saw the loony rubbish man ahead of me, beating wantonly on the large pad which opens the door for the armless and the terminally lazy. At the sound of my derision snorting all over the bright Spring morning he turned, saw me and scowled.

I call him the loony rubbish man not because I believe him to be inadequate as a man, or because his refuse is deranged, mentally like. No. It’s because he has made it his life’s mission to pick up what he thinks of as rubbish from places he thinks of as wild and beautiful, and collect it into large collections, then dispose of it in strange places. Occasionally, very occasionally, he will find his way to the recycling yard behind the community centre, and after putting the rubbish into the correct receptacles as indicated by the very clear signs, he will then fill his bags for life from said receptacles and take the new selection of recyclables elsewhere. And on and on it goes, with innocent litter condemned to an eternity of movement in a lunatic cycle of confusion and despair.

My grief with the LRM is directly related to the fact that one of his preferred methods of rubbish collection is to storm into local eateries, such as mine, and swoop on unsuspecting and previously happy customers, demanding that they hand over foil pie cases, offering to remove half drunk coffees and teas, and generally being the type of chap who you’d be happy to see tumbling head over heels over the nearby cliff-edge, to be dashed to a supposedly premature end on the chalkbeds below.

So because of this, and also because he likes to stand by people as they’re sitting there eating and drinking, and lecturing them on the benefits of a diet consisting mainly of raw nutshells and vegetable twine , as far as I can follow his logic, I’ve banned him from my small high street retail bakery slash coffee shop. And not only that, if I see him approaching I immediately go outside and stand foursquare and sturdy in the doorway, intimidating him with a glare and a set of crossed arms. Until the fucker passes. And if I have customers sitting at the outdoor tables, I prowl meaningfully and menacingly just to let him know that I have not forgotten and I will still not let him pass. Reader, my bite is savage but my bark can be, although somewhat camp at times, worse. Grrr!

The beast beat one more time on the spazzer pad and the door reluctantly opened for him. The ragged and grimy ends of his sleeves hung over his even grimier and ragged hands as though his arms were longer than his legs and his hands had fallen victim to some horrible disease which had made them drop off. Probably just as he flushed, so they were lost forever.

Funnily enough, by the time I’d tried and failed to register my arrival at the touch screen thing which is an innovation at the surgery, then gone to the desk and checked in with little Laura manually, so to speak, the LRM was nowhere to be seen. Crouching behind a chair, scraping potentially recyclable dried body fluids out of the hard wearing contract carpet most likely. I drove him from my mind and seeing Scottish Jackie, went over and sat with her, chatting about our gardens and stuff until I was called to consulting room five.

I don’t often go to the doctor. There’s no point, usually, as I am rampantly hearty, healthy and hale as a matter of principle. But I’ve got this scabby bit of itchy dry skin on the edge of my ear which always tingles in the sun and it goes all dry and flaky at random intervals.

So after convincing myself that I’d scorched a fatal amount of cancer into my ear by my free and easy ways with the Mediterranean sun, and getting as far as making a pretty damned cohesive plan for my imminent funeral event, and sorting out this year’s travel insurance policy while I could still honestly say that I wasn’t suffering from or being investigated for any terminal condition, I thought I’d better ask the doctor to confirm the diagnosis.

Have you ever heard of Natalie Prass? I’m listening to her self titled cd right now. It’s lovely. My baby don’t understand me. Indeed.

The doctor took a look at my ear, fingered my lobe and ran his tip around the rim. I wondered if this meant we should get engaged. I smiled coyly. He asked about my sun exposure habits. I told him.  He nodded. He told me that I have an actinic keratosis. Not just any old keratosis, but the full fucking works, the actinic one. He told me to moisturise it and keep it well protected from UV rays and all should be well. I was a mess, all relief and vague disappointment banging and shouting together in a small room with a screaming  spoiled infant thrown into the mix. No funeral soon then.

Then he decided that I needed a bit of a going over as my last visit was back in 2004. He told me that my blood pressure of 163 over 110 is not a good thing, but I told him that I like high numbers. He told me I’ve got to go back for a thorough check up and to submit myself to an ambulatory six hour monitoring session and in the meantime to keep up my current level of excercise and stick as close as possible to a Mediterranean diet.

Mmmm, kebabs, said I.