Given this, the prospect of a fully-paid company medical was too good to miss, so I signed up. Unfortunately, the rest of my colleagues clearly also had well-developed hypochondria and as a result, the event had to take place just a few days after I returned from my trip to America -- land of the free, home of the unfeasibly large portion. However, this did mean I had a perfect excuse to ignore everything said to me: "Of course, BEFORE my holiday, I'd have been an Olympic medallist, but now...".
The tests and examination were mostly fairly routine: blood and urine samples were taken, eyesight measured, and I was put on an exercise bike and told to pedal, while hooked up with more wires than are used in your average 'Peter Pan' production. Strange machines went 'Ping!', and pens swept across rolls of chart paper.
After this, I had a nice chat with the doctor. She quizzed me on my general state of health -- which, it has to be said, is unproblematic. I've not spent a night in hospital since I was born -- at least, if you discount the one in a Casualty department after a Cramps concert, but that's a whole different story. "And do you check your testicles for cancer?" came the question. Now, while I am certainly familiar with my own genitals, I've no idea what I should be looking for: 'tender lumps' apparently, but the entire area is, on the whole, both tender and lumpy. "Would you like me to check?" was the next question.
Readers who've been paying attention will have noticed the usage of "she" with reference to the doctor. Having been aware of this part of the exam from previous attendees, getting a youngish, neo-pretty practitioner brought up several questions. Now, while not normally averse to having such women fiddle with my erogenous zones, it had the potential for "Well, clearly no problems with THAT, Mr.McLennan" comments. So let's think of income tax returns; DIY; Biros; mobile telephones; broccoli; Eric Rohmer movies.
This did the trick, and I emerged for the final confrontation with the nutritionist. "Eat more fruit and vegetables", he said. Five portions a day. And barley and hops don't count as vegetables, he meant stuff like Brussel sprouts -- seems a rule of thumb that nutritional value is roughly inverse to palatability. Otherwise though, I came through pretty well: while my cholesterol level is a little high (oh, THERE'S a surprise), my lungs are in tip-top shape, and the liver is doing a fine job of making the piss.
All somewhat of a relief, albeit disappointing -- I was hopeful of being diagnosed with some (chronic but non-painful) disease which would prevent me from working, yet not stop me spending my permanent health insurance. Ah, well, time for some pizza: tomatoes and onions, that's two. Do you think pepperoni is a vegetable?