My parents were neither posh enough nor rich enough to employ a nanny to look after me – but 60 years beyond the cradle I’m beginning to find out what it would have been like.
Last week I had a chiropody check-up and the woman frowned at a small patch of peeling skin.
“That looks like the start of athlete’s foot,” she said. “Best get some cream before it gets any worse.”
As this particular foot is now the only thing about my superstructure to which the adjective ‘athletic’ can realistically be applied, its welfare became a matter of some urgency. So I toddled off to Boots, where the young woman behind the counter presented me with that desperate smile common to those who think they are about to be asked a trick question.
Nothing could have been further from the truth.
I should imagine ‘please may I have a tube of athlete’s foot ointment?’ is about as uncomplicated as it gets in a chemists’ shop.
“Yeah, but are you taking any other medication?” was the unexpected reply.
“Plenty,” I assured her, “but I don’t rub any into my feet. Be assured my big toe is not in imminent danger of an overdose.”
The pharmacist was summoned, and when I refused to apprise him of my entire medical history in public simply to forestall the annoyance of a tingling toe, he decided I was not to be trusted with a pot of cream which had now assumed the aura of hemlock.
It was time for the fight back to begin.
“By the way,” I said, “on my way into your emporium I could not help but notice the poster on the door offering me a chance to win a ticket for the Olympics.”
He beamed contentedly.
“And apparently, all I have to do to be eligible for such a prize is take a test for chlamydia.”
He nodded, but the confidence drained somewhat from his smile.
“But since I always thought chlamydia was a spring-flowering shrub, perhaps you would be kind enough to describe this infection to me in some detail so I can judge whether it’s worthwhile my entering.”
He declined – which is why my foot is still itching and a seat at London 2012 remains a distant dream.
** Dressing for success fails to impress me
Have you noticed how television experts – in a desperate attempt to look different – all end up looking the same?
Archaeologists, for example, consider themselves half-dressed unless they sport eccentric headgear, beneath which mad hair bursts forth in frantic clumps.
Preposterous pullovers – like those favoured by Mick Aston on Time Team – are also considered de rigueur.
Antiques experts, on the other hand, tend to be more conscious of the epiglottal region.
Lurid bow-ties and cravats abound, and scarves are encouraged no matter what the season or temperature.
To see little Philip Serrell sweating beneath a giant muffler on an August afternoon – while the sun beats down on the corrugated roof of a salesroom – is one of the pleasures of Flog It.