“Peter Warland: raised without hormones or steroids.”
It is extremely difficult to remain footloose and fancy free when you have a sore spot on your foot. I was contemplating this serious business as the nurse examined the nasty corn on the pinky of my left foot and all sorts of very important thoughts came to my head.
I recalled that my mother used to have corns and I used to think, ‘so what?’ but now I am suffering the same indignity it is much more serious. I can’t get my foot into the favourite walking boots without considerable pain and this is bringing my life to a grinding — hobbling anyway — halt.
So there I was like that Greek statue called Lo spinario, the thorn, later copied by the Romans and imprinted on my memory – but more sedately clad and with a face more like one of those Olmec statues from Mexico – having footling thoughts.
Probably, my most favourite pastime is being afoot in the mountains with my charming, slightly younger friends, who pretend that I can keep up with the cracking pace they go.
Way back before Napoleon messed about and insisted on using the metric system, a foot was a foot, not 30.48 centimetres. It made sense, but, I don’t wish to put my foot into the metric system. Centimetres are fine for someone who wants to get picky, in woodwork, for example. But you can’t toss centimetres around the way you can with a foot. In school, way back, my teachers were maundering on about a foot in music and poetry, something else I didn’t understand, but a few (weird) pupils pretended they knew what was going on.
Foot — it is such a handy expression. Even before my foot was a true foot long, places like Downton Abbey had footmen to look after the lords and ladies, wait on them hand and foot. We didn’t. We didn’t even have carriages or clunky cars. We had to ‘foot it’ on footways and we played football, a game that actually involved kicking a ball with a foot, unless we lost our footing. Having little money in order to foot our bills, we were not harassed by footpads either.
But some of us, like my mother, had corns on one foot or the other and now I am similarly afflicted.
Being already as old as Methusela, having to totter about because of the corn on my left foot is an embarrassment. Elderly ladies come to help me, or at least offer to help. They see an old man limping lamely about an airport or store, they come traipsing over, hot foot, to see what they can do to help and I lamely apologize for the inconvenience then shoo them away.
This may sound corny to those who haven’t been paying attention but not only do I have a sore foot but my 20-year-old pick-up has also grown tired and lame and I may have to find a back alley somewhere and see if I can get the vehicle up there some dark night and shoot it.
So, meanwhile I have to find a substitute and this means hobbling bravely into several car-sales establishments. In one of these places I discovered the vehicle which temporarily attracted my jaundiced eye but, unfortunately for him, the ardent salesman offered me his help and held my arm when I attempted to climb into the driving seat. Offended, I stomped out of the place; elderly ladies helping me is just fine, fun even, but another man!
Miffed, I went elsewhere and put my descendants into penury with a very expensive vehicle then hot-footed it to the sanctuary of my pied-a-terre where my wise-acre neighbour explained to me why, at my great age, I should suddenly have developed my first corn. He said, “It’s prolly taken eighty some years to develop. These things take time, like my kidney stone. Get on with it.”
So that’s what I’m doing.