I had been putting it off for some time. Dodging the bullet, if you like. An infinitely-patient woman had left about half-a-dozen messages on our answerphone. The first one was quite breezy, but by the third or fourth a note of desperation started to enter her voice. I recognised that tone. It's one I've heard from Katie more than once in the last few years. Typically when she's been talking to me.
Eventually the woman had given up attempting to get me to call her back. I'll be honest. I knew what it was she wanted and was working on the time-honoured principle of Maybe If I Ignore It, It'll Go Away. It's an approach that's worked in the past. Typically when Katie's been talking to me.
Then the letter arrived. Bugger. I struggle to ignore cold hard print at the best of times, and with Katie shoving the thing under my nose there was never going to be any escape.
I suppose it was time to book my biennial health check.
My employers, bless 'em, provide me with a number of things. A nice working environment, fun colleagues off whom I can bounce ideas and all the chilled water I can drink. They even deposit cash into my bank account every month. But there are other things - rather less welcome things - and the health check falls into this category.
So I called the health check bods last week, hoping that maybe they'd have a window sometime approximating to Hades reaching frost point. The last thing I wanted would be for the health check to be soon. That wouldn't have given me sufficient time to undo the damage.
"We can see you in late July," was the opening gambit. I was going to have a bit of a problem with this, as I'd have just returned from two weeks in Brittany at that point. My blood test alone would show a dangerously-high crepes and cider reading. So I asked for an alternative.
"Are you OK with a female doctor?" There's really no suitable answer to this, is there? As an otherwise worldly-aware thirty-something I couldn't really refuse. Of course I'm OK, I tell them.
"Great, we'll see you a week on Friday. We'll pop a short questionnaire in the post - bring it with you on the day. And make sure you fast for four hours beforehand."
For the second time. Bugger.
On Friday morning I shall go to a very nice private hospital. A phlebotomist (and I'm in agreement with City Girl about how that is the nastiest job title going) will jab something the size of a drainage culvert into the crook of my arm and collect about a bathful of crimson. In a matey, cheerful way, of course. I'm then going to be allowed a tuna sandwich, after having peed into a cup. Happy happy joy. Please wash your hands.
A nurse will then lead me into another room where I'll be measured, weighed, prodded, punched and processed. My eyes and ears checked, my lungs functioned. Pads stuck to my chest to determine my heart rhythms.
And then the real fun starts.
I'll be ushered in to talk to the doctor, who'll have spent the last twenty minutes uhm-ing and ahh-ing over my completed questionnaire. If this were the vets, the shotgun would be primed and ready. But it's not, so the doctor will instead fix me to a chair with a megawatt stare. I'll have gone back 30 years in attitude.
"So tell me about your diet."
"Mumble mumble mumble beer cheese meat and a bit of veg mumble mumble."
"And exercise. How often do you get out of breath?"
"Mumble mumble every time I walk up the stairs mumble mumble."
The word "obese" will be used. Preceded by "clinically", which, to be frank, doesn't soften the blow terribly much. And then there will be the final test. The one that us men are supposed to do on ourselves in the shower every morning. Normally I need someone at the very least to buy me a bloody good dinner before I'll let them put their hands there.
And it was at this point, as I was typing this, when I remembered the "Are you OK with a female doctor?" conversation.