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It was that week which rolled around with surprising speed every three


Yes, every female of a certain age received the summons to come on down

to Suttonford’s nearest town hospital in order to have their mammary glands

squeezed so hard that it couldn’t have been more painful if they had been

trapped in a bank vault’s door.  It was called Breast Screening.

However, it was quite a social occasion and neighbours who hadn’t seen

hide nor hair of each other in as much time gone by, greeted one another,

either with false bonhomie, or with deep embarrassment.

Then they were subjected to unknown levels of radioactivity.

Carrie was telling me that she met Brassica and Chlamydia there and then

they all went for coffee afterwards and burst out laughing when they had

cupcakes with raspberries on top.

It was an expression of relief, no doubt.

They also started talking about my poem, which was entirely fictional, but

had been written about a woman who might have come to terms with

necessary surgery which saved her life, but disfigured her body.  Everyone

else was embarrassed, but she was just relieved and wanted to get on with

her life.

Angelina Jolie at the launch of the UK initiative on preventing sexual violence in conflict, 29 May 2012 (cropped).jpg

Like I imagine that brave Angelina Jolie behaving? suggested Brassie.

Maybe, replied Clammie.  How did the poem go?

Carrie recited it.  She has a better memory than I do.  But who has the better

mammaries?  Ah, that’s debatable.  We don’t flaunt them much nowadays, but

like that Gossard Wonderbra model who gained the older woman respect and even

admiration, it might surprise everyone how shapely we still are!


After my mastectomy, I was duly asked,

‘one lump or two?’…and then a pregnant pause ensued.

Swollen with deep embarrassment, glibness unmasked,

The hostess halted her outpouring; the tea stewed.

‘Actually, I have none.’ – Discomfiture again.

(my voice as brittle as her porcelain cup and plate).

And one misguided ‘friend’ tried to conceal my pain –

‘she’s on a diet and has lost a lot of weight’.

‘Yes, I’ve just been picking up a new bikini.

I’ve thought of Monte Carlo for my autumn week’.

‘Or bust!’ said a girl whose breasts were like zucchini.

(My silicon implants provoke a good deal of pique).

‘Well, Papua New Guinea sounds like fun,’ I quipped.

My wit was rising like some vast protuberance.

‘Let’s say I keep my cards close to my chest’. Tight-lipped,

my hostess said, ‘we usually go to France’.