I promised here a story of a performing lady and her abdominal scar. Here it is.
The year is 1973, the place south London. The time is Friday evening, and the story concerns four young men attending King’s College Hospital Medical School who were taking an evening stroll. As they proceeded from Camberwell in a north-westerly direction towards The Oval, a thirst descended upon them somewhere in salubrious north Brixton.
Behold, seest thou yonder hostelry?
Yea, verily. Let us thither hie to slake our thirst.
Aye, aye. Come, make haste.
It was—you’ve guessed it—the Skinners Arms (there is no information concerning whether or not there was an apostrophe, and if so where it went) on the corner of Vassall Road and Camberwell New Road. According to Wikimapia it is no longer in existence, having doubtless succumbed to town planners. Anyhoo … the four knights did enter.
If it be thy pleasure, fair serving wench, we parchèd wanderers each desire a tankard of thy most toothsome nectar.
Most certainly, wandering lords, quoth she.
Some time and several flagons later, behold the lights did dim. Music rang forth and lo, a performing lady materialized on the podium. This surprised the knaves. Nevertheless, they steeled themselves to witness a spectacle. The performing lady, they were astonished to see, gradually divested herself of her habiliments until she stood before the assembled company wearing only a two-piece bikini. She had a midline scar below the umbilicus.
Ah, comrades, espiest-ye the scar? Perhaps the lady hath undergone an hysterectomy.
It was not that the utterance itself was foolish, but rather the volume at which it rang forth, for the intended whisper cameth more as proclamation. If thou understandest that, thou dost apprehend the nub of the issue.
Thou art mistaken, fair friend, quoth the lady, for ‘tis an appendix scar.
And having uttered those very words the bikini-clad performer hied herself to the bench at which the knaves were seated, and sat on the knee of one of them, and polished his spectacles with one of her removèd garments.
Now, the knaves were, admittedly, junior medical students, but they possess’d enough knowledge to know that appendicectomy does not normally require a midline incision in the lower abdomen. Nevertheless, they sensed that circumstances were not propitious for further discussion of the issue. They felt that discretion was in their best interests, and without further quaffing or quoting they legged it onwards, returning to their lodgings to prepare for the rigours of the weekend. The young men were lucky, methinks, not to be set upon by the lady’s supporters.
The moral of this story? To draw conclusions from observations is good, but any proclamation of the same should be timely rather than immediate. The youth learnt a lesson.
Every sinner has a future, and every saint a past (Cardinal Hume, I think).