The alarm goes off.
“You get up first.” Purrs Mrs. Brown seductively.
“No you go first – I’m doing school drop off today.” I whisper.
“COO-EEE! I’M HERE! I’LL GET UP FIRST!”
Oh, shut up, bladder!
And that’s the problem. I am now a gentleman of a certain age and if I ever fancy a lie-in I have a bladder like an insomniac rooster to wake me up at daybreak.
And let me explain this to anyone either a) too young or b) too female to understand. When a fortysomething starts needing a wee in the night it doesn’t instantly switch from an eight-hour gap to a four-hour gap.
This is death by a thousand cuts. The Chinese Water-works torture, if you will.
You start off by waking up needing a wee. This transitions ever so slowly to the point where you are woken up by needing a wee. And then the gap shortens so you start needing to get up just a few minutes before the alarm, which in turn stops you from settling back to sleep unless you absolutely need to be up and alert, in which case you’re back out like a light.
And this continues with the fuse shortening by a few minutes a year until your threshold is down to three or four hours and you are onto what in Grand Prix (French for Massive Wee, if you didn’t know) they refer to as a two-stop strategy.
Our bodies change as we get older. As a one-time urologist I can speak with some authority.
The average relaxed human bladder is the size of a pear, the prostate is the size of a walnut (which is the starting point for a rather nice salad for those who haven’t lost their appetite). Unfortunately, due to a quirk of predictive text I have a bladder the size of a pea and a prostate the size of a Walmart.
And that’s not the only clue that I’m getting older.
Either my barber is getting more skilled at just trimming out the grey bits or the ratio has got a lot worse lately, when I look at the sliver carpet on the shop floor after a haircut.
Then there was when I bought a bathroom mirror in Ikea and I’d had it up for two years before I realised it’s faulty and has my father’s reflection in it.
And don’t get me started on bending over.
My back cracks, creaks and rattles like the percussion section of a Mexican band warming up. It takes me so long to get down to the floor and back up again that if I need to tie my shoe laces I catch myself looking round the room to see if there’s anything else needs doing while I’m down here. And the dizziness I get by standing up suddenly from sitting can be so striking I feel, ironically, I need another good sit down.
And that’s another thing.
As a GP there’s a point your patients pass when verbs become nouns.
They are past the point where they need what my son’s teacher calls “doing words”.
I find I have passed this point myself.
I don’t “do” any more.
Or barely ever.
Not if I can possibly help it.
What this means is that when I was younger I would party and drink till I fell over or sleep it off. Nowadays I go to a party, have a drink and maybe have a fall or preferably, a lovely snooze. “It’s terrible, doctor. All my verbs have become nouns!”
All of which reminds me of a quote from a consultant surgeon I used to work for twenty years ago.
Patients would sigh and say there was nothing good about getting old.
“No.” He’d smile. “But it beats the alternative.”