A Matter Of Record

Thursday evening. It’s not quite weekend yet, but it has that loose feel about it.

I was at The Royal Exchange in Manchester, to watch the play The People Are Singing, directed by Ukranian Tamara Trunova on her UK debut.


The play deals with war, and war was the subject before the doors opened. There was a man pontificating in the middle of the room, drinking wine with a matching scarlet cravat.

“America won’t do anything to Syria. They won’t do a thing-because of Russia. It’s posturising, that’s all.”

He ventured further into global politics until the doors opened and he ceded the stage to the professionals. The play was good, Cora Kirk shining on her professional debut. As it closed we were sang out by a Ukranian choir, following us out into the mild, Manchester air. Then my phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Is this Andrew Murray?”

“Yes.”

“This is ***.” (It’s a clinic I’m set to take part in a medical trial for.) “Can I ask if you are still taking medication for penile dysfunction?”

“Pardon?”

“We have your records from your GP. Is your penile dysfunction still ongoing?” 

“Penile . . . ?”

“Dysfunction.”

“I’ve never been to the doctors about that.”

“It says here you went to the doctors on the 22nd of December 2009 about it.”

Of all the random things to be asked. I thought it was a mate winding me up. But, as the conversation went on, I asked:

“Are you sure you’ve got the right records?”

She asked my date of birth. I told her.

“Yes it’s you. The doctors want to know if you’re on medication for it.”

“Well I have absolutely no recollection of suffering from that.”

“It says here that you have.”

“Well if that’s the case I can definitely verify that I’ve never had medication for it.”

“What about now?”

“No.”

“Okay, thank you. See you tomorrow.”

She hung up. I stared at my phone in disbelief, then began to doubt myself. I googled ‘penile dysfunction’ on my phone to see if it can mean anything else apart from impotence. Penile dysfunction . . . erectile dysfunction . . . Nope.

I called the clinic back to see if they had the right records for me. I didn’t want to make the journey by train to my appointment for it all to be in vain. A different member of staff assured me that they had.

I called my wife but, by mistake, I told her that my doctor claimed on my medical records that I’ve suffered from penile malfunction.

“Penile malfunction? What the hell is that? How did it malfunction?!”

“No, I mean penile dysfunction. They say I’ve had penile dysfunction.”

“And what’s that?”

“Impotence!”

It was at this point that I realised I was speaking quite loudly on a busy Manchester street, and was attracting a few glances.  My wife was finding it all hilarious. She said “They probably think you’ve rang them back in denial. ‘I’m a man! I have no problems in that department at all!'”

I told her that I’d speak about it later and put my phone away. It was then that a man, handing out flyers for a club, approached me.

“Would you like to go and see the Dreamboys?”

I felt then that someone must have spiked my drink, sending me off onto some kind of Freudian trip.

In the morning I’d probably wake up pregnant.

** In the morning, alas, my cravat wearing friend would have found that America did indeed take action against Syria.

**At the screening test at the clinic today, there was no sign of penile dysfunction on my records. Hope it’s not a sign. An Inspector Calls comes to mind.


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