Magazine article The Spectator

Holding Back the Years

Magazine article The Spectator

Holding Back the Years

Article excerpt

I'm beginning to decompose even before I'm dead. My eyesight's going, my hair's falling out, I've got galloping gum disease, my legs are covered in eczema and I've found a small hard lump on one of my testicles. To stop the rot, I got on the phone and made appointments. Last week I had three appointments - optician, dentist and doctor - on the same day.

The optician pushed me down into a black leather restraining chair. Then she ordered me to lean forward and put my face in a harness. Then she turned out the lights, straddled a stool and homed in on my eyeballs with a range of bizarre medical and scientific instruments. It was incredibly sexy. Given the choice between a full body massage and a detailed eye examination, I think I'd take the latter. The upshot of the examination was my walking out of the opticians wearing contact lenses for the first time. I'd let things go for so long that I'd forgotten what it was like to see properly. I stood outside the optician's and looked about me, astonished by the beauty and clarity of the world.

Next stop the dentist. So far I've spent £900 in four visits getting the gum disease under control and doing up the gnashers. I've lain underneath my dentist with my mouth open for about four hours altogether. But now, with my new contact lenses, it was as if I was seeing her and her assistant's faces for the first time. Today they were renovating another filling. Where possible, I'm having the mercury amalgam replaced. My dentist insists that there is no scientific evidence that mercury fillings are bad for the health, but I suspect otherwise.

When I was 21, my mouth already full of mercury amalgam, I went to a pop festival at Stonehenge that coincided with the summer solstice. Just before sunrise, I was dancing in a field to a band called Planet Gong when this chap, previously unknown to me, offered me a tab of LSD, which I accepted and immediately swallowed. He then asked me whether I would like to pop along to the stones to watch the sunrise. He had a holdall with him, and when we arrived at the old monument he surprised me by disappearing behind a trilithon and emerging dressed in a magnificent white druid's robe.

When the rim of the sun appeared above the horizon, he and about 20 other druids held hands and danced in a circle. …

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