Surely I’m not the only person who has noticed this. If you’ve never been privy to this phenomenon, stand near any group of old women and listen intently. Sure enough, you’ll hear them talking about their various afflictions, comparing diseases like football sticker swapsies. Keep listening at this point, because it is guaranteed to turn into a bragging match over who is the most poorly.
It all starts innocently enough, with Mavis mentioning her dreadful cold that she’s had for a week now and can’t shake off. Then, Beatrice pipes up to talk about the flu she’s been contending with for 6 months, flu that is possibly of the swine or avian variety. Then Betty throws down the gauntlet with her suspected myeloma she caught from tumbling down the stairs. Finally, Margaret sweeps the table by declaring that she’s been dead for ten years, she just hasn’t been officially diagnosed yet.
The big C is a pressing concern for the elderly (that’s Cancer, not Cucumber, dumbass), and any signs of illness are immediately interpreted as the first signs of a malignant tumour. A slightly runny nose indicates nose cancer. A case of alopecia is hair cancer. Smelly feet is foot cancer. The doctors never ‘fess up and admit its cancer, but old people read between the lines. Deep down, they just know. It seems that the closer you get to the grave, the more in tune you become with the balance of life, death, heaven, hell, Torvil, Dean, and the universe.
I have a theory that grannies actually go out their way to become ill, just for something to talk about. As soon as a new flu strain comes out, they start rubbing themselves against victims like affectionate cats, hoping to contract the disease and brag about it to their friends. Just like fans who queue up overnight to get the latest iPhone or to get tickets for their favourite band, old women will line up round the block to catch a dose of the clap from a homeless chap.
Not only that, but they also have to compare the ailments of people who they know. They’ll delight in telling you about their grandson Johnny who has had childhood asthma that has slowly developed into HIV somehow. All that, and little Johnny being mugged and forced into becoming a transvestite by hoodie yobs, that is.
It’s no surprise. If you pick up a newspaper such as the Daily Express (a granny favourite), they usually have a headline about cancer. In fact, they should just stop printing news altogether and turn it into a daily list of things that might give you cancer:
“TV sets, fluffy pets,
cordless phones, static homes,
fuzzy felt, seat belts,
toilet bleach, Halo Reach,
rock, pop, laptops,
computer games, pocket change,
petrol fumes, dusty rooms,
PC screens, windolene
Rudolph, Dasher, Blitzen, Prancer,
These things can all give you cancer”