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1 September 2021updated 06 Sep 2021 5:56pm

Which of my troubles is worse – the lost bank card, the sold-out wine, or A&E with a dodgy heart?

As I am ordered to the hospital, my next worry is the cost of a taxi there and back – well, let's hope there is a "back". 

By Nicholas Lezard

I wake up to the worst continuous pain I can remember experiencing. N— had come round the night before and that was the usual debauch but unless my entire hangover has been concentrated on my left  lung this isn’t anything to do with drinking too much. At least I am lying in a decent bed: N— tidied the books off and made it properly before she left, for which I am very grateful. Some people get maudlin or violent or abusive when they drink; N— tidies my place up.

The pain isn’t too bad I discover, as long as I don’t cough, or move, or breathe. I have contrived a lifestyle in which not too much movement is called for but  it’s less fun not moving because you can’t, as opposed to not moving because you can’t be bothered.

And, as I have discovered, unless one is in a coma, one moves all the time, even as part of the most inert lifestyle. One  shifts position. One reaches  for one’s book. One reaches  for one’s cup of tea. One  makes the tea. Worst of all, one has to get out of bed to empty one’s bladder. Not getting out of bed to do that is not an option, but it’s so painful doing so that one begins to wonder if it is.

[See also: A promised parcel has yet to arrive. It gets me thinking about what else is missing in my life]

And I have to get out of bed anyway later: I have to go to the bank as I have lost my bank card again – second time this year – and I need to get some cash because otherwise I will have no wine for the second night in a row. There is, of course, the worry that by the evening I will be on the kind of antibiotics that preclude alcohol but I am trying not to think about that. Bad luck comes in threes, they say,  and bitter experience has taught me that this is either often the case or feels like it, and I wonder if that will be  the third calamity to befall me this week.

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Meanwhile, I wonder how on earth I lost my bank card. My last memory of it was sticking it into the machine at the self-service checkout at Waitrose, and it is entirely plausible that I left it in there, even though I was stone cold sober. I know I didn’t take  it to the pub later because  Jed, who edits the local freesheet, was going to be there, and as he gets me to write for him for no money  I have no problem with being bought drinks by him all evening. The first time he did this I could see him wincing but I think I have him fairly well-trained by now.

So off to the bank, to the supermarket, and all in time  to get back home before the GP calls at 2pm. (As I will discover is necessary when I realise I have left my  phone behind.)

***

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[An hour later] First, I would like to salute the staff of the Churchill Square, Brighton branch of the NatWest.  They no longer have a  counter for service but they took a look at me and realised that going to another branch might polish me off, so went to the safe to get me some  cash. What’s the opposite of a jobsworth? That’s  who the good people of my branch are.

Then off to Waitrose. The nice organic Shiraz that was  on offer has sold out. The nearest thing to an equivalent offer and region has the word “Botham” displayed proudly on the label. I dither quite a long time in front of it.

[See also: If I had my time again, I’d go to the party I snubbed – full of rich, single women]

On the one hand, it’s really quite a good deal, and how bad can the wine be? On the other hand, it has the word “Botham” in large cursive letters on the label. Being a lefty Remoaner I have, as you can imagine, quite a few problems with this.

For one thing, the cricketer-turned-wine endorser Ian Botham – a blowhard who thought Brexit was a good idea – has now become a trade envoy to Australia. It’s an unpaid post, I gather, but he will clean up on the posh party and freebie circuit, and also it was one of those gratuitous and deliberate insults that the government engages in on a regular basis these days. But the other wines. . . oh, so expensive in comparison. At least two quid more, and I have to count the pennies these days. So, God forgive me,  I buy it.

I manage to get back in time to catch the GP’s phone call. I describe my symptoms. I like to think I have some experience with chest infections but when he asks, and I tell him, how it  feels to walk up a hill he tells me to go to A&E to make  sure I haven’t suffered heart damage (I thought I had, but only emotional heart damage).

As you can imagine, this opens up a whole Pandora’s box of worries. At the very end of the list is the cost of a taxi to A&E and back; thank goodness I saved a couple of quid on that wine. And let’s hope there is a “back”.

[See also: In Brighton, you never know who might run into you. Or who might run you over…]

This article appears in the 10 Sep 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Labour's lost future