One of the true and amazing facts I have learnt today about the world of MRI is that the smaller the area they are taking magic pictures of, the longer you have to be under the MRI hairdryer for.
Since they were zooming in on the top my finger, I had to lie on my front and extend my arm out in front of me ('like Superman', the scanner operative told me) for 40 bloody minutes. This is neither as effortless or as comfortable as it sounds, which is just another of the many reasons why Superman was a hell of a guy.
One boon of lying on your front for people who are slightly anxious (tick) and claustrophobic (tick) is that you feel you are just lying in a white room having a bit of a nap, rather than being able to see that the ceiling of your space-chamber is only eight inches or so above you, and you are trapped in what essentially looks like a cross between a pod in a Tokyo capsule hotel and some kind of state-of-the-art coffin. Or, if you prefer, that you are part of some giant techno experiment, like Mike Teevee at the climax of his story arc in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. And because the scanner is really noisy - I mean, it really is like being inside an enormous scanner - you have giant headphones to wear and they let you bring a CD with you to play. To try and distract myself, I chose a goofy compilation I had made for a party, the contents of which I found myself trying to justify, and then apologise for, to the radiographer – who obviously couldn't care less and was only thinking, 'Jesus, we've got ourselves a talker.' OK, there may be something quite seriously wrong with my hand, but the excruciating pain of that would be as nothing next to a medical professional mocking my love of the theme to St Elmo's Fire.
Halfway through the scan, they took me out and injected something or other into my hand. It took three attempts, and after the first one the nurse said quite casually, 'Oh dear, that vein's burst,' which is not a brilliant thing to say to someone of a nervous disposition like myself. But fortunately all I have to show for that particular micro-ordeal is three plasters and the most slimline bruise I've ever had.
I thought, as bruises go, it might look slightly more impressive. In fact, it looks a bit like a varicose vein in my hand which, having done some work for pregnancy and baby magazines, I can tell you is far from the least unusual place to have varicose veins.
I got to King's College Hospital early, so I walked into Camberwell for a mooch round Woolworths. There aren't many local shops where they sell saucepans and fancy dress under the same roof – while simultaneously keeping the tradition of pick'n'mix alive – so I like to give them my business whenever I can. And thank Christ I did, as otherwise I would never have known of the existence of this:
One of the Chuckle Brothers – and I believe it to be Paul – must get through more eyeliner than Russell Brand. (In researching which Chuckle Brother is which, I've discovered that Chuckle is not their real surname. Sorry to be the one to let you know.)
While I was in Woolworths, I bought myself a Terry's Chocolate Orange as they were only £1.25 and I figured I deserved it. Even though I am now 34 and responsible for earning and disposing of my own income, a Chocolate Orange somehow retains the childhood air of Extremely Special Treat. And although full-price they probably cost less than a pint of beer or a shop-bought sandwich, it still seemed gloriously decadent. However, after the scan, I went to do my weekly shop at Sainbury's and found they were selling two Chocolate Oranges for only £1.93.
I felt like a fool.