Time was when second opinions hurt like hell

Nowadays, when someone is unhappy and asks for a second opinion, I'm cool with it. 'Sure,' I say, 'whatever.'

Or, if I'm in a particularly time-efficient mood (and it behoves all of us in the NHS to strive for greater efficiency at every opportunity), I'll just say: 'Whatev-.'

But when I was young things were different in so many ways; if you liked a song you had to sit through hours of garbage on the radio in the vague hope it would turn up. If you really liked it you had to buy the whole LP.

If your favourite programme was on TV, you had to actually be there to watch it (how primitive was that? How did we live?).

I was feistier then, with all the arrogance of youth, and any request for a second opinion was taken as a hideous personal insult.

'I'd like a second opinion,' said Joe. 'I'm not obese, I have big bones, and also, I believe that "totally obnoxious" is not a medical diagnosis.'

'You want a second opinion?' I sneered at him with the contempt of the beautiful (I did learn some things during my surgical rotation, (1) how to remove toenails with insufficient anaesthesia, and (2) no-one can sneer like a consultant surgeon). 'Sure, here it is; you're ugly as well. Are you happy now? Want any more?'

Because I was beautiful in those days, and this is not just the idle boast of a disappointed old man - I know it to be true because a lady once described me as 'a beautiful young man'.

OK, it was my auntie Mamie, and she was probably biased as well as very strange and fanatically religious, but she had never lied to me before, except for all that stuff about God and The Bible and Noah's ark, and how unpleasant hell was going to be, great big black devils sticking red-hot pokers up my arse for all eternity, etc.

I've matured since then, though I sometimes miss my pony tail, my six-pack and my dangling medallions (the pornstar look was very fashionable then) and sometimes I feel like Maurice Chevalier: 'How strong you were/How young and gay/A prince of love in every way. Ah yes, I remember it well.'

But some things never change - Joe still has big bones.

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