Yesterday I was mostly at the hospital.

For a few months I have given succour to a peculiar lump on my collar bone. It’s a bit sore sometimes, but nothing too grim. I’ve named it Mildred so as to accentuate it’s slightly intrusive but ultimately harmless Auntie-type presence.

It needed to be MRI scanned and biopsied. I have cancelled these procedures three times so far because I am: a) far too busy being drunk and happy to dick about all day in a hospital; and b) a total twat.

The MRI scan was first. Have you ever had one? If you are about to have one of these entirely pleasant and relaxing medical assessments, may I suggest you stop reading at this point…


I rejected the offer of a sedative because I wanted no fuss. This is not because I am a naturally no-fuss sort of person. In fact I am the opposite; if there is the slightest chance of fuss, I shall make it and ensure everyone around me is involved in it. Also, if there is the slightest chance of being offered a perfectly legal high, I will seize it hungrily with both trembling hands. But it’s the school holidays and I wanted to be able to just come home straight away and drink wine as normal.

This was my first mistake. I should have taken the sedative.

The night before the procedure, my darling eldest helpfully found a short video on the internet of a woman having an MRI scan. It was a lovely big machine, all bright and airy and she wore her own loose-fitting clothes and went in feet-first and listened to Coldplay while in there for a mo and came out all smiley and thoroughly scanned and I thought, well that looks like a lovely little lie-down.

I fucking hate that woman and that film.

In reality, I was forced into an inelegant surgical gown and then encased in a head-brace. They then laid a very heavy weight on my chest, all the better to encourage the feeling of being buried alive. Then they injected dye into my arm, special dye I assume, not just you know, out of a felt-tip. Cod liver oil capsules were taped to my collar bone for reasons too technical for me to understand. Then they thrust an emergency buzzer in my hand and inserted me head-first into a teeny plastic tube where my nose almost touched the roof. There was no Coldplay. Instead, my immersion in hell was accompanied by seventeen thousand decibels (is that quite alot? I don’t know much about decibels…) of whirring and buzzing and drilling and clanging, all the better to remind me of the fact I was trapped in a tight tunnel so that my attempts to mentally remove myself from the situation were constantly foiled.

And they left me in there for a FULL TWENTY MINUTES.

I shut my eyes so as to not be aware of just how close the roof was to my face, but my right eyelid kept quivering open. Stupid eyelid. I tried taking myself back to the happiest day of my life when youngest was born. I tried visualising my evening at home after all this with wine and pasta and The Good Wife. I tried imagining the moment when Guy Garvey of Elbow spots me in the audience at a gig and invites me backstage for depraved rock ‘n’ roll activity. Hell, I even tried remembering my favourite porn scenes…

Then the machine broke. They pulled me out. They sent me back in. They pulled me out. They sent me back in. My ability to keep my eyes closed and my breathing steady and not fling myself around screaming I’M NOT A CELEBRITY BUT GET ME OUT OF HERE YOU MASSIVE CUNTS was testament to my extraordinarily brave character.

Eventually the machine was deemed too broken. I made a desperate joke about my personality being so magnetic, I must have interferred with the mechanics. They laughed obligingly. Nobody has EVER made that joke before in an MRI scanner…

How do you think they fix a malfunctioning multi-million pound, highly specialised, state-of-the-art MRI scanner?

Turn it off. Count to thirty. Turn it on again.

After a few goes, it worked. But we had to go back to the start because the computer hadn’t saved the first twenty minutes which made me almost weep and say to myself that I must never again actually weep over unsaved word documents.

There followed a FULL FORTY MINUTES of feeling like you’re being forced back into your mother’s vagina, with the umbilical cord wrapped around your neck while she works on a very noisy construction site. This time my left eye-lid kept flickering open. I hate my stupid traitorous eyelids.

The good news after all that, is that I didn’t need the biopsy because Mildred is just arthritis. HOORAY! I have always imagined my old age would be spent languishing in bed, smoking fags, drinking wine and writing my memoirs until I die. Mildred is not cancer, she is a brill excuse to move less and write more. ME LOVES THIS LUMPY MILDRED AUNT!

But the REALLY GOOD news is that my lovely Dad came all the way from Essex to accompany me to the hospital and I discovered that he is an olympic-standard hospital escort. It is a rare and remarkable thing to have a Dad who will take you to grim medical appointments and proceed to make you laugh your arse off in waiting rooms and constantly tell you how marvellous you are whilst mildly taking the absolute piss out of you.

The whole day took on an altogether joyful air because of him. The car park is impossible to find? How hilarious that there is no signage! The radiology department is impossible to find? Let us ask a series of bemused medical-types if they know! You have broken the machine?  What a marvellous and somehow predictable story! You don’t need a biopsy? Let’s go straight home so you can immediately get drunk!

I did not need to be trapped in a tunnel for an hour to discover how brill my Dad is. But I will take that experience as a reminder of his brillness. And also of the fact that if they offer you drugs…YOU MUST ALWAYS TAKE THEM…