Children

Nature can produce some terrible things. In South America, for instance, there's a type of worm that can burrow into your left ear, work its way through your brain and emerge from your right ear with your PIN number, your bank details and the password for your Hotmail account. Parts of South East Asia, on the other hand, are plagued by the builder beetle, which can demolish your liver, build a luxury studio apartment and rent it out to a family of weevils faster than you can say 'tolerated trespass'. Such troubles, however, pale into insignificance compared to those of the unwary traveller on the plains of central Africa, who suddenly finds himself infiltrated by zebras. They can be buggers to shift, and they don't half make your back ache when they're having a party.

Nothing, however, comes close to nature's most pernicious parasite - a species of relentless bloodsucker to which I'm led to believe people submit themselves willingly. I speak, of course, of children.

Good evening. My name is Doctor Adolphous Bongo, and I'm sure you're all relieved to learn that the medical world has been blessed with the now famous 'Bongo Manoeuvre'. Any medic worth his salt should have some procedure named after him, and the absence of my own manoeuvre has, until now, been a source of some embarrassment. Briefly, the Bongo Manoeuvre entails squatting down with one palm flat on the ground. Then, with the other arm you reach round behind your back, grab your opposite elbow and jump forward three times. I have not yet figured out what condition or injury this is meant to alleviate, but these details can be ironed out at a later date. For the meantime it is sufficient for the purposes of the patent application that I have described the manoeuvre as comprehensively as the little box on the application form would allow.

I wish that I could say that my manoeuvre is an effective way of dealing with children, but I fear that more traditional methods may yield better results. Many of the more successful techniques involve sporting equipment in one form or another, although there are no guaranteed cures. Once you've got children, you're stuck with them for life. Like herpes.

So if doctors like myself are unable to cure people of children, we must therefore concentrate on prevention. As a GP, young couples come to me all the time to ask my advice on starting a family. I know, astonishing isn't it? Perhaps I've just got one of those faces. Anyway, I tell them in no uncertain terms, don't do it. For one thing, the image projected by the media of a baby as a giggling, squeaking bundle of fun is all wrong. In reality what you'll end up with is a chubby little shit factory that, once it becomes mobile, will gradually work its way through your home eating everything in its path.

And secondly, there are already far too many people in the world as it is. I should qualify that: there are far too many of the wrong type of people in the world - and the more effort we make to dissuade them from breeding the less chance there is of them getting in my way in the supermarket, bothering me unnecessarily at my place of work, or getting wedged under my wheel arches when I'm taking the BMW out for a spin.

Unfortunately, rational argument fails to have any effect on the majority of my patients, chiefly for two reasons. Number one, they are fucking idiots. This much goes without saying, but I nevertheless take great delight in saying it at every opportunity. Number two, they seem to have this weird, in-built desire to continue their miserable legacies by perpetuating themselves in their mutant offspring.

I suppose there is a certain logic. For someone who has never - and is never likely to - achieve anything of note during his lifetime, there is an attraction in the prospect of raising an anklebiter who will go on to discover something, build something or attain some other accomplishment that will briefly raise it above the swamp of mediocrity that characterises the rest of its species. It's not likely, of course. Not when you consider that its parenting consists of fifteen years of keeping it distracted with knocked off video games and feeding it almost exclusively on a diet of meat pies, bar snacks and fag ash, then slinging it out of the house when it comes home one day and tells you that it's got its girlfriend pregnant. At which point, of course, the whole damn cycle starts over again.

It can be no coincidence that a man of considerable accomplishments such as myself has no descendants. Nor do I wish to have any. Gifted though my progeny would undoubtedly be, such an inconvenient little tadpole could not possibly build upon my achievements and would only ever serve to tarnish my legacy. What need do I have of a Bongo Junior when my immortality is already assured by my towering body of research, my unimpeachable reputation, and my novel and highly original manoeuvre?

Actually, I have suddenly hit upon a use for the Bongo Manoeuvre. Next time some dreary little shop girl comes to my practice to talk about 'starting a family' I shall recommend she try my manoeuvre three times a day. With any luck she'll put her back out and be in no position to start anything.

Return to Doctor Bongo's Casebook

Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2012

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