Poor old Napoleon Boneparte had two great adversaries : one, of course, was the Duke of Wellingtion, the other was hemorrhoids. In order to try and deal with the former he turned to his fourteen regiments of armoured heavy cavalry. In order to deal with the latter he turned to one of the most pre-eminent French surgeons of the time, Baron Guillaume Dupuytren. It would appear that Dupuytren was able to bring the Emperor some relief, although how long-term that would have been we are unable to say because of the combined effects of the said Duke and the arsenic impregnated wallpaper of Saint Helena. But if Baron D had done little else in life he would have warranted a footnote in history for making the day to day life of the French Emperor a little more comfortable. But he did do much more than cure Boney's piles : he drained brain abscesses, treated seizures, and described in detail the disease of the hand that was named after him - Dupuytren's Contracture.
You may find all this marginally interesting. I do. And that is because I seem to have developed Dupuytren's Contracture. In my old age, I have become twisted. I should stress that it is merely the little fingers of both hands that are suffering : as yet my mind is no more twisted than it has been for most of my adult life, and I can assure you that I have definitely not developed the associated condition known as Peyronie's Disease (be warned, look this up at your peril!). But, over the last six months, my little fingers have begun curling like the tail of a baby pig. As far as medical conditions go, in can be classed as inconvenient rather than life-restricting. One is in constant danger of poking oneself in the eye when washing one's face and one has difficulty in extracting coins from trouser pockets - but speaking from a Yorkshire perspective, the latter is not so much a problem more a blessing in disguise. The time has come, however, to try and get something done about it before I become unable to hold a pint glass of beer, and therefore I am due to have minor surgery on my right hand next week. I mention this, not in the hope of sympathy (no grapes please, just bottles of malt whisky) but as a warning that I might need to restrain my usual loquacious style whilst the scars are healing over the next couple of weeks.
"You've hardly been bloody loquacious over the last couple of weeks", I can hear you shouting. That is because I have discovered a new passion in life and, as with all passions, it seems to have been monopolising my time. It all started one night when I was unable to sleep, so I got up and switched on the television. I eventually found one of those all night shopping channels and decided that it would be a perfect cure for my insomnia. And there was a chap demonstrating a steam mop that was the answer to just about everyones' prayer. It would clean everything : stone, wood, tiles, carpets, pots, pans, drains, drums, sinks suits and all with nothing more than a cup full of water. With such a steam cleaner my life could be transformed. I could banish dirt, odour, disease, and quite probably wickedness, from this world. I could sanitise the dog, deep-clean the shower nozzle, and resurrect life into my tired upholstery; all with the flick of a switch and a confident smile on my face. The very thought of sleep became impossible until I had acquired such a machine myself, and since I have acquired one I haven't had much time to sleep because of my passion to make everything clean. The hall carpet and the kitchen floor were fine for starters, but very soon my horizons' expanded. People are beginning to steer clear of me because they know that they are likely to get a cleansing dose of steam if they stand still for too long. The lamp-posts up our road shine with a radiance that can outmatch any 90 watt bulb. It is the glow of cleanliness, the shimmer of spotless.
Fear not : once I have steam-cleaned the rest of West Yorkshire and once my fingers are out of the splints, I will return.