Lumps and Bumps

Today I went to the Lumps and Bumps doctor.

It’s something everyone over fifty has to do.
My GP said that the strange things on my limbs

were only barnacles, an accident of my living.
That’s comforting, in a sense, but good GPs
bulk-bill for the comfort of the nation.

They slip pills down our throat, ease stress,
try as hard and as long as they can to keep
us out of the national statistics, out of

the emergency wards, away from the waiting
lists for treatment we may not need. The GPs
are domestic warriors in the health war. They

are the best thing we have. But enough of that.
Today, I met Dr Lumps and Bumps. He was
a little man, short, half of my weight. A specialist

in lumps and bumps. “What do you do?” he asked.
“I’m a semi-retired graphic designer and a writer,”
I said. “What do you write about?” he asked.

“Sport and poetry,” I said. “What sport?”
“Football, of course,” I said. He asked me
to take my shirt off and examined my back.

“Such white skin,” he said. “You have many moles
but I’m not worried about any of them. Who do
you write for?” I thought long and hard about

that question. “My GP says that all of the bumps
and lumps on my body are only barnacles and that
I shouldn’t worry about them.” “Your GP is right,”

he said, “but that mark on your nose is no barnacle.
It’s a sun cancer. I want to get rid of that.”
“When?” I asked. “Right now,” he said. “Did you

ever play football?” he asked. “Yes,” I said,
“and I was a good player shaping up for selection
in the First Eighteen.” “And?” he asked. “And

one night at training our coach said that
he wanted to teach us how to tackle
so that our opponent wouldn’t be able

to resume the game. This was in the sixties;
I was in the peace generation. I loved footy
but thought this was against the spirit

of the game. I dropped out and played squash
instead which was an equally competitive game
but lacked the philosophic violence of footy.”

He stared at me. “And you?” I asked. “Yes,”
he said. “I played footy too, after school,
into the amateur league. One day I met

an opponent who said…” I stopped him.
I said: “Your opponent said that if you
touch the ball, I will kill you.” Dr L&B

said: “Yes. You are half right. If I touched
the ball he’d smash me on the field and
then smash me again in the carpark.”

Dr L&B was a little man. “You were a rover
or a forward pocket player?” I asked.
“Rover” he said. “First or second?” I asked.

“Second,” he said. “Were you any good?”
I asked. “I don’t know,” he said, “but I played
with Robert Day.” “You were good,” I said.

He brought out his nitrogen gun, put a mask
over my eyes. “This may sting a little.”
It didn’t. “Who do you write for?” he asked.

The Footy Almanac,” I said

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