Placenta of the magic circle

My son was born in 1966 and I ate his placenta. It's been so useful, that being his year of birth, because it was World Cup year, so I can always remember it. Whereas with my other children, they were born in the year, er, during a year, definitely.

I ate his placenta because the moment I saw it, I thought: "Heh, this is 1,000 words, I'll get a column plus a meal out of this." I wrote about it for the women's pages of the Sunday Times, of which I was editor, so it was immediately accepted. The result was hundreds of letters of complaint: ugh, disgusting, how could you?

It came about because he was born at home, in what is now our kitchen. He arrived early, before the midwife could get here, and came out with the cord round his neck, about to strangle himself. I cut the cord, having learned how at fathers' classes. While in America, I had heard that someone there had eaten a placenta. When the midwife had got it all out, I said, "I'll have that." I fried it with onions, as I had been told it tasted a bit like liver. It was OK but I only managed three bites before remembering I didn't like liver, then I buried the rest in the garden.

Now, if only I had thought of wrapping it round my knee, which was giving me gyp even then, instead of eating it. It might well have resulted in a miracle cure, and Robin van Persie, Yossie Benayoun, Glen Johnson, half the Chelsea squad and God knows who else would not have needed to fly out to that woman in Serbia for her placenta treatment. I could have treated them here, in Kentish Town, very handy for the Tube.

For it just takes one, and they all follow like sheep. Footballers, you see, are a strange breed. Brought up in a hothouse from the age of seven, reared and spoon-fed for one purpose only, cut off from the real world, they can spread any old nonsense like organic wildfire if anyone or anything penetrates their magic circle.

I remember asking my dear friend Wayne how he came to be making mammoth bets by text on his mobile to a person he had never met, never spoken to and who didn't have his address, so might well have been any old conman. The answer was that he had got the number from a fellow pro in the England dressing room, whose name I cannot reveal, who got it from another well-known England player.

This is how this placenta bollocks has happened. They tell each other, swear it works, and as there appears to be no obvious harm, the managers and coaches, who are far too cynical and hard and long-toothed to be taken in by such treatments, let them go, just to keep them happy while they're injured, stop them getting bored.

When I first had arthritis, I tried oil of evening placenta, the bottled breath of fresh virgins and manure from the Brazilian rainforests. And did they work? Did they heckers, although loads of people told me they had done wonders for them, or their auntie, she's dead now, but she swore they really helped. Only good old drugs work, especially one I now inject into my tummy once a fortnight, which has a very long name. So did eating my son's placenta do me any good? Well, here I am, 43 years later - and bingo, another 600 words. No one can say it wasn't worth it.

Hunter Davies's latest book is "Confessions of a Collector" (Quercus, £20)

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 30 November 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Left Hanging