It has to be said that I didn’t feel entirely at home in the little waiting room at the chiropodist.
For a start, I’d been up and down the street in my local town trying to find the place – and that street is full of medical practitioners of assorted levels of quackiness. There’s “holistic this” and “crystal healing that”.
Anyway, I finally found it, crept up some creaking stairs and took a seat. I was in full farming kit (not wellies, of course), and the room was hotter than a Turkish brothel.
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Within minutes, I was having to shed layers of clothing. Worse than that: somewhere there was a source of music playing ethereal, new-age, wifty-wafty tunes; I searched in vain to find it and change it to the latest from Napalm Death.
And I could have sworn there was incense in the air, battling against my Eau de WD40.
What was I doing there? I don’t know if all farmers have this problem, but I just hate protruding nails. Long fingernails gather dirt and catch on things, while long toenails and sturdy footwear don’t mix.
Nailed it… not
But there’s a little problem with my trimming technique: it’s definitely agricultural. I take a big clip off the middle, and rip it off to the side.
My toes have avoided this butchery for ages, but the new hip means that they are within range again.
Trouble is, the eyesight is getting worse, so the single clip I took off a few weeks ago was a bit extreme; and, worse than that, it didn’t all rip off; there was a sharp slither of sturdy nail left, deep down to one side, protruding into the flesh.
There was a bit of blood, and within a couple of days, a bit of gooey ooze, and when the whole foot started pulsing at three in the morning – not to mention the 24,000-volt shock when an over-exuberant flatcoat landed on my toe – I knew help was needed.
I tried the doctor’s, but their next appointment was several weeks away – but the chiropodist’s call centre appointment system said I could have a slot within days.
Did I want the 10-min quickie, or the full (Monty Python-style) half hour? I went for the latter, assuming a major job would be needed.
So when the man himself emerged from the surgery, he looked a bit surprised; apparently, I didn’t look like the sort of trophy-wife client who normally booked the full half-hour “soothing soak in a whirlpool spa, rough skin removal, foot massage with nourishing moisturiser cream”.
I explained I booked half an hour because I assumed he had 30min worth of hacking ahead – although the foot spa bit did sound nice. Perhaps another day.
I explained my predicament while my foot softened up in a hot tub, and within moments he was hard at work, surgical steelware flashing.
I closed my eyes and stared hard into the black distance, only once letting out a yelp. Eight-and-a-half minutes later, he’d finished; the offending needle of nail had been located, lifted slightly (hence the yelp) and delicately snipped off, now flush with the rest. And he very kindly only charged me for the 10min slot.
The relief was immense. I was down those stairs and out into Lavant Street like Gene Kelly. It was all I could do not to burst into song and splash my way through the puddles and swing elegantly round the lampposts.
I thought it best not to; I do have an image to keep up.