When Isobel and I got married thirty-odd years ago, somebody bought us a Teasmade for a wedding present. A Teasmade represented the height of new technology back in the early seventies. An electric clock would automatically switch a heating element on in a small electric kettle. Once it had boiled, the pressure of steam would force a jet of scolding hot water into an adjacent teapot. Three minutes later an alarm would sound and lights would flash and you would wake up to a ready-made morning cup of tea. Such was the theory. The reality was a little different. The machine used to make a dreadful assortment of noises as it slowly heated up. As the steam finally pushed the water from kettle to teapot it was like a clip from Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times. Steam would escape, there would be whizzes and whozzes. Bits would clank and other bits would vibrate. It was one of the most alarming experiences I have ever suffered from. You would lay awake half the night waiting for the dreaded moment when it would start up. Which rather defeated the object of the thing in the first place.
I am reminded of the Teasmade and that anticipatory fear in the pit of my stomarch at this very moment. In just a few minutes a pain will develop in my left arm, a pain as intense as an attack by a boa constrictor. Over a period of about 30 seconds it will build to a level where you think your arm will be split asunder and then it will gradually - and I mean very gradually - fade away. Is this yet another of my funny turns you will ask. No, I reply, it is my 24 hour blood pressure monitor.
When the practice nurse told me I would need to be attached to a 24 hour BP monitor I assumed it would be a classy digital device which would automatically and continuously monitor my pressure. I was wrong. It tums out to be what looks like a 1960s blood pressure cuff with a long tube attached to something behind my back (I assume a pair of bellows). Every half hour - day and night - someone (who I also assume is secreted behind my back) pumps the bellows up until I cry in pain. When tears begin to flow it must somehow break the circuit and slowly the pressure goes down. And this happens every thirty bloody minutes. In the few hours since it was attached to me I have learnt to dread its half-hourly cycle. I sit here waiting for it to kick-in. As the promises time gets nearer my blood pressure builds up in anticipation. Which, rather like the old Teasmade, rather defeats the object of the exercise.
Can't write any more now, it's about to happen !! !!!! !!!!!!