Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

08 September 2009

There’s A Lot of It Going Around

‘Groin Strain.’

What exactly is ‘Groin Strain’? Nobody I ask seems to know.

I think I first heard the term associated with cricketers - about ten years ago, maybe more. That’s when the sport was going through a patch of dandyism personified by capricious new baby professionals with bouncy, often bleached, curls who thought themselves more important than the team.They were brought to such a peak of nervous perfection that, like race horses, they were liable to break down if ill-used; a match too many inducing… Groin Strain.

I don’t ever remember Denis Compton or Don Bradman having it; perhaps it had another name in those days. But come to think of it, I can’t recall any occasion when those old cricketers had anything wrong with them at all; they used to go on and on.

But whatever it is it’s catching; soccer players are getting it these days - probably brought on by ever more outrageous ‘hollywoods’; and even rugby players, ever since they started doing those silly ‘high fives’. I’m afraid we’ve seen the last of those flinty, unsmiling, imperturbable warhorses.
Let’s face it, Groin Strain is just another fashion. It’ll disappear overnight to be replaced by something new: ‘femoral flux’, perhaps, or ‘patella passion’. (I’ll bet you didn’t know that appendicitis used to be called the ‘iliac passion’ - keep it in mind for Trivial Pursuit).

My sports masseur, who is as mystified as I about Groin Strain, was telling me the other day that it was not all that long ago that athletes would climb on to his table complaining of ‘Hip Flexor’. He says that it rapidly disappeared without trace from the repertoire of niggles.

‘Slipped Disk’ is another one. In the 1950s, particularly, every second soul you came across had it and it soon became so commonplace that people were looking for alternatives. One of them was ‘P.I.D’. I can still remember a desk-bound airman on my RAF station telling me that his slight banana shape was occasioned by P.I.D. and was a wonderful ploy for getting out of P.T., square-bashing and kit inspections.
‘P.I.D. It sounds awful’ I commiserated, ‘What is it?’

In contrast to the elusive ‘Groin Strain’ he was able to make a definition: ‘Prolapsed Intervertebral Disk.’ he replied, triumphantly. You must admit it was far superior to ‘Slipped Disk’ but both terms have fallen out of fashion.

Did you ever encounter ‘Urti’? Sounds like the name of a mid-African tribe. I went to Sydney once to have a meeting with a man who, when I got there, didn’t show up. I was told by his secretary that he was suffering from ‘Urti’. She carefully spelled it out: ‘U-R-T-I. Upper Respiratory Tract Infection.’

‘Oh, you mean he’s got a sore throat?’

He could hardly have justified missing an appointment with somebody who’d come so far if he’d only had a sore throat, Urti was so much more impressive.

‘Writer’s Cramp’ had its day. We could all understand that description. Even school kids had it. It was never permanent, but after writing an essay on, say, Gordon of Khartoum or The Reproductive Process of the Earthworm, it was necessary to flex the fingers as demonstratively as possible several times over as teacher came around. Writer’s Cramp turned itself into a monumental evil, embracing not only handwriting but also typing, word-processing, sewing machining, oakum picking, knitting and crocheting; it was the wildly popular RSI.

What, have you forgotten Repetitive Strain Injury already? It turned Writer’s Cramp into a benefits industry. And in some parts of the politically correct world just when it was really hitting its straps somebody came along and renamed it O.O.S. - Occupational Over-use Syndrome. I guess the word ’syndrome’ was what clinched it. Anything with that word in is worth a fortune when you’re putting in an sickness claim. Or maybe they called it O.O.S. because, like Urti, it could become a word in its own right: ‘Oose’.

It’s much nicer to say ‘I’ve got Oose’ (rhymes with moose) than ‘Arsi’, isn’t it? (Funny thing about Oose, not many self-employed people seem to get it.)

Every generation has its fashions but the more ’state of the art’ we become, the more technological they sound. I mean, my granny, if I asked her to bring me a glass of water in bed, would demur, saying she had ‘a bone in her leg’. Nothing high-tech about that but then she was a great one for bathing sprained ankles in chamber pots, and chewing cloves for toothache. She died just as ‘Housemaid’s Knee’ was on its way out; I think it gave way to ‘Tennis Elbow’, a condition much favoured by beer drinkers who never went near tennis courts but leaned a lot on bars.

Who knows what the next fashionable ailment will be? I suspect that it will emerge from the Internet and will be called ‘Cyber-something-or-other’. Or maybe it will be something as simple as was once diagnosed in me by a doctor when I reported sick with lumpy glands and spots before my eyes.

‘If you haven’t got your fly done up to your waistcoat, you’ve probably got Taloiga.’

‘Taloiga.’ I spluttered, in mortal fear.

‘Yes; There’s A Lot Of It Going Around…’


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By Don Donovan