March 2024

Back to Issue 15

The Last Laugh

By Paul Murgatroyd

Frank strode into the Jolly Miller and saw his old friend Roy standing at the bar with two pints of Stella and two double vodkas in front of him. He tapped him on the shoulder and murmured: ‘I see you’ve got my drinks in, but aren’t you having anything yourself?’

            ‘Well hello, heartface,’ said Roy with a grin. ‘They’re not all for you, greedy guts.’

            ‘So what’s with the vodka?’

            ‘I owe you that.’

            ‘What for?’ asked Frank, mystified.

            ‘I’ve got you to thank for the comedic highlight of the week. Wait till you hear it. You’ll laugh until your eyes bubble.’

            ‘Oh aye? What is it then?’

            ‘Get that voddie down your neck, you old bastard, and then I’ll tell you. Nostrovia!’

            They knocked back the doubles and pretended to throw their glasses into the fireplace. Then they carried their pints to a table and sat down. Roy lit up a cigarette and said: ‘After you kept on badgering me to go and see a doctor about the breathlessness I finally made an appointment. You know the state of the Health Service in Britain today, so instead of a doctor I got a twelve-year-old “physician associate” (as he styled himself). Which presumably means he isn’t actually qualified, just someone who hangs around physicians. Anyway I christened him Dr Dolittle, because of his unwavering policy of masterly inaction. His real name is Adam Carr. Called Adam presumably because he couldn’t tell a real doctor from Adam.’

            Frank chuckled at that and took a pull of his pint. Roy downed half of his and then went on. ‘The appointment was for four o’clock, but he didn’t see fit to see me until twenty-five past. No patient came out of his room before that, so I can only conclude that he was busy squeezing his spots in there. Or playing with his little willy – he had the sick-grey face of the onanist. He also made a poor start by not explaining why he’d kept me waiting, just introduced himself and asked politely: “How are you today?” Well, how do you frigging think, son, as I’ve come to see a doctor, I nearly said.’

            ‘Now now, sarky sarky. That’s not like you at all.’

            Roy grinned. ‘He obviously suffers from ADD – not H: he’s hardly hyperactive. He enquired what the problem was. So I carefully explained about the slight breathlessness when I go up an incline or blow me nose while walking. I told him how it had been going on for nearly four years now, ever since the holiday in Spain just as Covid was breaking out there. So I wondered if I might have caught it there and it might be long Covid. Although it could easily be something else. I said I’d been writing it off as just due to me being a million years old, but I, er, I had this old woman of a mate always going on at me about seeing a doctor -‘

            ‘Oi, snot off, you cheeky bloody tiddly-wink,’ said Frank, laughing.

            ‘Then I told him how you told me about some new Covid variant doing the rounds, and a respiratory virus coming soon to a cinema near me. So I was just a bit worried that if I caught one of them on top of me existing condition, I might have problems breathing at all, and, knowing me, might take things too far, have a heart attack, keel over and die. So I’d come to him for his advice. Ha! After I carefully explained all of that to him, the bloody bodger asked me why I was concerned about the breathlessness. Jesus in a jockstrap!’

            Frank cocked his head and pursed his lips judiciously. ‘Erm, this is just a guess, I’m going out on a limb here, but am I right in thinking that for you a doctor not paying attention to what his patient tells him doesn’t inspire the greatest confidence? ’

            ‘Bloody right.’

            ‘You perfectionist!’

            Roy smirked. ‘Then he got his Junior Doctor Kit out and gave us a quick general check up. He took me temperature. In me ear. It was normal. So nobody was talking about me just then. Everything else was normal too, chest and heart fine, only the blood pressure was a bit high. He wondered why this was. Just possibly because I’d been kept kicking me heels for half an hour and ended up stuck with a spotty teen with the attention-span of a frigging goldfish…Anyway then he gave me the benefit of his considered opinion. It might be long Covid, but then again it might be something else (gee, wish I’d thought of that), and as it was only a slight breathlessness, it was probably nothing to worry about. When I pressed him, he said I could try walking slower. And if that didn’t work, I could come back – yeah, and see an actual doctor.’

            ‘You should, you know,’ said Frank, nodding. ‘Go and see a grown up doctor and get it checked properly. With X-rays and that. And get some proper advice. Like going on a diet and cutting down on the fags.’

            Roy grimaced at the idea of that. ‘Nah, sod that for a lark. I’ve never had much time for doctors, but after him I’m totally finished with the medical profession. Especially after I moved on to the dry orgasms, hoping soft lad could at least help us with that and set me mind at rest.’

            ‘Dry orgasms? What the hell is that?’

            ‘Firing blanks. Having an orgasm without ejecting semen.’

            ‘What? I’ve never heard of that.’

            ‘You’re not the only one, mate,’ said Roy, finishing his pint and brandishing his empty glass. As Frank went to get his round in, Roy lit up another cigarette and thought about how he would tell his tale, choosing his words for maximum humorous effect.

            Frank put down the pints and said: ‘So, what’s all this about dry orgasms? Out with it. So to speak.’

            ‘Ha ha. I was flabbergasted when I first noticed it – me flabber was aghast. I’d never encountered it before, so I looked it up on the internet. Apparently it’s not that uncommon, especially in older men. The semen gets diverted to the urethra, and comes out later in the urine. It’s not a problem, unless you want to father children – not just now, thank you very much, not in me seventies. I told him I didn’t trust everything I read on the internet and wanted to see what a doctor had to say about it. Ha bloody ha. He looked a bit shocked (the prissy little pillock) and then confessed that he’d never even heard of a dry orgasm…And he didn’t bother to consult a colleague or go to an official medical website, just sat there and let me fill in himabout it.’

            ‘Bloody hell,’ muttered Frank, shaking his head.

            ‘Despite all that, soft sod that I am, I also told him that me testicles have become sensitive, and a bit uncomfortable when me underpants ride up. Not pain as such. But I’m just, er, sort of aware that I have testicles, if you know what I mean. I read that this can be an accompanying symptom with dry orgasms. I spared him the technical term for it – epididymal hypertension. I thought the long words would be beyond him. It’s docspeak for tender balls. Apparently didymos is an ancient Greek word meaning “twofold” or “twin,” so the expression means that me little twins are over-tense… I only mentioned the tenderness to him in the hope of getting confirmation that it was nothing serious. Not some horrendous disease of the nether regions that’d make me bollocks drop off and go pin-balling around the chair legs and skirting boards…Of course, soft shite had no knowledge of that either. And no fucking interest, as he didn’t do a check with a urine sample or a prostate examination or even a quick grope of me nuts… And Dr Dolittle had no course of action to recommend for that either. So I obscenity in the milk of his mother, and I’m sticking to the internet from now on. But at least I got a funny story out of it.’

            Frank sat back and took stock. He could tell that Roy was annoyed as well as amused by Dolittle’s incompetence, and he guessed he was still a bit worried about the problem with his tackle. So he decided to divert him and buck him up with some funny stories of his own. He said: ‘Not good. But it, er, it could be worse, you know.’

            ‘Oh aye? How?’

            ‘Well, he could have actually  given you a prostate examination. They’re no fun, believe me. I’ve had two. The first one was by me GP, who just got me to hop up on his couch and stuck his finger up me bum. But the second one was by a urologist, who had obviously had certain experiences while performing this examination: he spread newspaper over his couch before he got me up on it.’

            Roy broke into a loud laugh. Pleased by that, Frank followed it up with another tale. ‘While we’re on the subject of bums, did I ever tell you about me auntie Glyn and the enema?’

            ‘No. Go on.’

            ‘She worked as a volunteer nurse in the war. For a day. One day. She got booted out after giving a bloke an enema.’

            ‘What? Why?’ asked Roy, raising his eyebrows, and taking a big swig of his beer.

            ‘Well, she was very young and innocent then, and didn’t actually know what an enema was. The sister told her to give this bloke one, and she was too embarrassed to confess her ignorance to her, so just said she would. Later she asked a nurse what the hell an enema was, and didn’t quite follow the explanation. Got hold of the wrong end of the stick, you might say…Nobody knows where she got the drumstick from, but she used it to ram a piece of soap up the patient’s arse, and the soap and the drumstick got stuck up there.’

            Roy cackled even more at that anecdote. He kept on picturing the man and the protruding drumstick and kept on giggling all over again. Finally he calmed down and said: ‘Ah, don’t make me laugh any more. I’ll piss meself, literally.’

            But Frank had one more story. ‘Still on matters anal, I saw our Brian last night and he told me about an unfortunate incident involving his next-door neighbour, Dave, who has really bad piles. Yesterday morning Dave had a massive shit – the world fell out of his bottom – but as he got up, he had this agonizing spasm and passed out. Collapsed next to the bog. Brian doesn’t know why Dave had a jam jar there, upside down, right next to the bog, but he did, and he sank down on top of it. Fortunately for him, not breaking it. The doctor later explained that the human sphincter is an amazing muscle, capable of tremendous dilation. It opened up round the jam jar and absorbed it…So poor old Dave came to with a jam jar up his jacksie.’

            With his vivid imagination working again Roy was convulsed, with tears in his eyes. Then he spluttered: ‘Oh come on, he’s having you on.’

            ‘No, no,’ said Frank, shaking his head. ‘You know our Brian: he doesn’t make stuff up. Anyway Dave called an ambulance, and Brian saw it pull up outside, an hour later, and came out to see what was going on. When he found out, he went with Dave in the ambulance to the hospital, really intrigued to see what they’d do with him… Well, when they finally stopped pissing themselves, they tried to think of how to get the bloody thing out. Without breaking it and leaving him with something grotty in his botty – a load of sharp splinters. Nobody had any idea. But eventually some bright spark came up with a cunning plan…They got some quick-setting cement, filled the jam jar with it and stuck a stick in the middle of it. When it set (like a German World War II stick grenade), they got hold of the stick and gently rocked it to and fro and tugged and tugged until it finally came out, with a tiny pop.’

            That image finished Roy off. He laughed and laughed, until he was red in the face, until he was sobbing for breath. Then he had that heart attack, keeled over and died.