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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Ball game

Drove past a roadside sign the other day that reminded me how I got started writing for a living. "It's cancer that should be scared now," the sign read and I couldn't help thinking of a piece on testicular cancer I wrote 15 years ago and didn't get published.

"Cancer is serious," my writing tutor assured me. "It is not a suitable subject for humour."

"Well I think it is, my po-faced pedagogue," I told him. "Those are precisely the subjects we should be laughing at." 

Or I would have done if I'd had the nerve. If we laugh only at trivial aspects  of life, it'll be like an evening with Michael McIntyre that lasts 70 years.

"Whole point of humour is to raise your spirits," I say later to Susan. "So you can be funny about anything - death, disease, divorce, religion, suspicious lumps on your balls you don't think were there before but aren't sure as it's a while since you felt them."

"For once I agree with you," she says.

"So would you like the job?" I ask.

"What job?" she says.

"Making me laugh and feeling my testicles once a month for little lumps that shouldn't be there. Ideally not at the same time."

"What do I get out of it?" she says.

"The pleasure of seeing me happy, relaxed and free from fear."

"I'd rather have ten quid a time."

"That's five quid a testicle. Seems steep."

"You can't put a price on peace of mind," she tells me. "It's my best offer. If you don't like it do it yourself."

"I can't," I admit. "It makes me squeamish. I get this stringy stuff between my finger and thumb that feels like frog spawn. The idea of frog spawn in my scrotum makes me sick."

"What a wuss," Susan says. "I might be talking myself out of a job here, but you needn't worry about that. It's your epididymis."

"My whaty whatymis?"

"Your epididymis. It's normal. You've got two. They transport sperm from the testicles on their first faltering steps into the big wide world."

"I always wondered how that happened," I say. "Well that's a weight off my mind. I can do the job myself now, thanks. I don't need you."

"You sure?" she says.

"What haven't you told me?"

"Nothing," she says and starts whistling, a sure sign that she's lying.

"Let me have it," I say and she does.

"Well the epididymis is long."

"How long?"

"If you ran out of string to wrap your Christmas parcels, you'd have more than enough in your scrotum."

"So what we talking about - couple of feet? I don't do many presents."

"Try twenty."

"Twenty feet!"

"Each. Forty feet in all."

"That's horrible. I can't touch that. I'd rather have the frog spawn," I say, reaching into my back pocket and pulling out a twenty pound note. "Here's two months in advance."

"That'll do nicely," she says, shoving the note down her blouse. "Do you want extras?"

"Now you're talking," I say. "What are your rates?"

"For another fiver," she says, "I'll warm my hands first."

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