I’m doing the Movember thing for the first time this year. By which I mean I’ve booked a check-up with the doctor. Oh yeah, and I’m growing a moustache.
I think Movember is one of the nicer things about the modern world. It’s an appealing combination of the silly and the important, and thus approaches “men’s health” in exactly the best way. Because when it comes to health, men are a skittish combination of hypochondria and bravado. Whether it’s man flu or prostate cancer, when we’re not avoiding we’re oversharing. When it comes to health, every man is like an embarrassed dinner party guest, desperately self-conscious and hungry to be perceived in the right way: strong, sensitive, self-aware, sensible.
And yet every man I know has some kind of mad obsession with a part of his body. My best friend has ripped his Achilles tendon. Poke most men in their forties and they’ll tell you about a dodgy knee, a tricky piece of cartilage, a sore back. I’m surrounded by friends with sore muscles and aching bones, and I’m as bad as any of them. A few months ago I completely destroyed?(my italics) my feet through running, and needed physiotherapy and orthotics to sort things out. I’m now a walking catalogue of inlays and supports, never happier than when investigating expensive Merrell walking shoes in the same way I used to examine albums in HMV.
So, we’re over-anxious about some things, usually the things related to sport?and doing things. But we’re rubbish at stuff down there, and things like Blood Pressure and Cholesterol are only names for rubbish punk bands until something final and dramatic hits.
So Movember performs a valuable service. In a light-hearted way, it puts things like Down There?and Blood Pressure?on the kind of footing men can discuss, like football scores and wind speeds. So book your check-up today.
(Incidentally, minor gripe: the NHS seems peculiarly bad at encouraging a culture of check-ups. I phoned my GP this morning and queried whether a check-up was sensible and available, and the receptionist politely but rather haltingly said “yes, we do sometimes do that.” Sometimes? Shouldn’t it be the first line of defence in any health system? Read this great article from the most recent Atlantic Monthly about CareMore, an HMO which specialises in preventative care and getting people in front of doctors and nurses quickly and early. They’re much, much more efficient than other HMOs. And much cheaper. So come on, NHS – let’s get people queueing for check-ups.)