Hobbled away from the Chermop's office.
My mind a jumble.
My consciousness whirling with words like gout, despair, sickness, decay, mortality, boots, miniskirt and open fire Mr Worf.
Flumped into a chair in Brambles Cafe.
(Known to scholars of my writings as the Cafe Polka because of its rather winsome Polish waitresses.)
Rang Hoddlebun on the mobile phone.
"I've just come out of the chiropodist's," I told her.
"Was she able to say what the problem was with your toe?" wondered Hod.
"Yes," I grimaced.
"So what's wrong with you?"
"Well Annie, let me put it this way. If I was an heroic god like figure within the oriental tradition you could call me Goutama Buddha."
There was a pause.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"To put it another way, if I was walking through Dublin and little street urchins were chanting slogans after me, they'd be shouting: Dickie Dickie Gout with your shirt hanging out."
"Jamie, what the hell are you talking about?"
"If I was the liberator of India my name would have been Mohandas K Goutie."
"Are you on drugs or something?"
"Listen Annie, I'm not like other guys."
"Just tell me what's wrong."
My voice became a sensually dangerous whisper.
"I'm Goutman," I breathed.
And somewhere the ghost of Michael Keaton was smiling.
Ah gentle travellers of the internet, it was hilarious.
But Hodders had the last laugh.
As soon as she fully understood the nature of my predicament she bombarded me with a full half hour of surely the most inane gout treatment advice in the history of humanity.
It was the most terrifying half hour of my life.
She's a doctor.
She might even know what she's talking about.
If a quarter of what she said was true, I was in big trouble.
"Didn't your Uncle Philmore have gout?" she wondered towards the end.
"Yes," sez I.
"What did he do about it?"
Ah noble readers, what appalling vistas are opening up.
The upshot of Hodnuts' advice is that apparently I have now to begin surviving on a diet of spring water and lentils.
I can't eat anything else.
Anything else will kill me.
And if I binge on the lentils my lower limbs may explode.
Bloody hell, as Uncle Philmore used to say.
Later this same day, myself and the lady known as Lil rambled into the Whitewater Centre for coffee.
I had trouble keeping up with her.
My 79 year old mother found this fact highly amusing.
We sat opposite each other over lattes at the Costa Cafe.
"So tell me," quoth the Mammy. "What's wrong with your toe?"
"It's gout," I said glumly.
Her eyes widened.
"Wah, haa, haa, haaaaaa," she mused.
Then a moment later: "Sorry son. It's a bit of a surprise. The only one who ever had gout in the family was Uncle Philmore. And he was alcoholic."
I nodded bitterly.
"Ironic, isn't it?" sez I. "The one vice I never really got round to."
The Mammy leaned forward and put a gentle hand on my arm.
"There's nothing wrong with having gout," quoth she. "It's just you're not really the sort of person that's supposed to get it. We'd normally associate gout with, er, British army Colonel types."
"Really Mother. Do you know many British army Colonels?"
"You know what I mean. Those British army Colonel types. The ones that used to be going around in the time of the Raj. I have this picture in my head of grey haired British army Colonels with big whiskery moustaches and flushed cheeks drinking red wine all day in the far pavillions."
"Oh," I proclaimed with some asperity, "those
British army Colonel types."
The lady known as Lil sipped her latte.
"Now that you've got gout what are you going to do about it?" she enquired with an air of interested detachment.
My face was a study.
"I suppose I might try to get into the British army," I said, "grow a tache, and hope to advance as quickly as possible to the rank of Colonel. Then everything could just continue on as per usual."
The Mammy grinned and said nothing.
Later that night I was alone at the Chateau de Healy.
The rest of the Healy menagerie were out, who knows where, most probably pursuing lives of careless decadent splendour.
You can do that when you don't have gout.
I sat in a little miasma of stillness, a solitary figure ensconced in an armchair in the west wing studying ontological proofs for the cyclic nature of existence.
(Southpark reruns. - Ed note.)
There came a tap on the door.
Enter my cousin Frances stage left.
She who teaches at one of Dublin's toughest schools.
She who can kill a joyrider at fifty paces with a single blow of her tongue.
She who... oh you know.
Feverish thoughts raced through my mind.
No need to tell Frances anything about the toe.
No need to talk about it at all.
One thing is sure.
If I start chatting, if I relax at all, Frances will worm the truth out of me in about five seconds flat.
The cousin sat on the couch.
"I'm really enjoying the stuff about your toe on the blog at the moment," sez she.
"Mmm yes," sez I.
"It's great fun," sez she.
"Glad you like it," sez I.
"Did you go to the chiropodist?"
"Did she say you'd need an operation?"
"No, no. Eh. She said it wasn't an ingrown toenail."
Frances looked mightily curious.
"What is it then?"
"Oh, some sort of infection."
The cousin seemed to accept this explanation and our attention rested companionably on the television for the next few minutes.
I heaved a mental sigh of relief.
Presently I decided to chance asking her about some of my symptoms.
Without mentioning the actual diagnosis.
Frances knows a fair bit of science.
She might be able to offer some advice on pain relief.
"The chermopodist says I have some uric acid on the joint. I wonder how I'd alleviate that."
There came a sort of shriek from Frances.
"Gout," she cried. "You've got gout."
I smiled guiltily.
(Goutily? - Ed note.)
Frances' eyes were shining.
She really did say.
"The only one round here who ever had gout was Uncle Philmore."