There are no guarantees in life

‘I’ll have an MOT, with a nice shiny certificate,’ I said to the garage mechanic, and was therefore understandably dismayed when, three months later, a hole appeared in the driver’s-side floor and large, wet elements of road flew up my trouser leg as I drove.

How can it be, I asked the garage, that you gave my car a full physical but only weeks later its bottom has fallen out. What sort of Mickey Mouse outfit is this?

Ah, said the mechanic, an MOT is not a full physical. We check only certain structural parts of the floor. We offered no guarantee for your trousers.

How weasly, I thought.

I am reminded of all this today. When I had both a telephone call from the coroner and a request for a well man check.

The latter, who seemed perfectly well to me, wanted an MOT, he said, to make sure he could face the next couple of decades of drinking, smoking and womanising in the same healthy spirit in which he had faced the last two. He was only limping because he had just fallen off his very big and fast horse. How long had he got?

The coroner, meanwhile, was ringing about a patient who had had his diabetic review with me the previous day, only to fall from height while inebriated and die of a head injury.

The well man made me feel frustrated — drinking, as he was, half a bottle of Scotch a day and cavorting around the countryside on large animals, he did not deserve to feel well. Indeed the scorn with which he dismissed my henpecking made me offer his prostate examination rather more indelicately than usual.

The coroner made me feel guilty, as if I should have predicted the disaster. What kind of Mickey Mouse outfit are you running? I heard him thinking, and I heard myself reply, ‘an annual review offers no guarantee of future health’.

Weasly? Moi? 

Dr Selby is a GP in Suffolk.
You can write to her at

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