I had been summoned for a Chinese medical examination, an essential part of the work permission application process, the morning after a big night out.
For the night before was a leaving do for one of the school’s - and possibly Swindon’s – coolest legends: photography and podcast guru Peter Webb. The official rule was no alcohol the night before the medical. Then again, there are always exceptions.
Assured by almost every other member of the team, including the boss, that is was absolutely fine to get a little merry the night before - these seemed people I could trust.
That night we’d gone out for a lovely Japanese meal and I sampled some saki for the first time in my life; we washed it down with beer chasers, which may or may not be part of the customary tradition. Someone had bought some firework/banger things too, so we were compelled to let them off at some random street corners, scarring dogs and children alike. It’s all part of the 'responsible teaching ethos' that the team holds so dearly, I think.
Back to the day of the medical. Firstly I woke up still under the influence, feeling wobbly, fragile and dire after just a few hours sleep. I left my passport at home so I was running a little late, and as I left the building for the second time – a sweet looking old lady outside started shouting and screaming at me. She continued banging on for about ten minutes until I managed to get someone who could speak Chinese on the phone to get a translation. It transpired she was upset about noise, which I’m sure isn’t anything to do with me, and some leak outside the flat I know nothing about. Essentially, I’m completely innocent of all charges m’lord.
Anyways, when I arrived at the hospital I paid up some had earned cash and started the dreaded health check-up… firstly some grumpy old lady, barked some orders at me – kindly translated by our welfare officer – stating 'put your arm through here so I can poke a hole in your veins'.
Next up I rushed through to a standing x-ray machine I had to put my chest onto. With a nod of the head from each physician, sometimes just simply a grunt, I had to grab my things and scurry off to the next room for the next challenge. After a weight and height test - which by the way beamed some magic laser onto my head to calculate my 183cm (just over 6ft) height -I felt simply radiant.
The eye test was a little tricky as most things were still a bit of a blur, including the person asking me questions, then there was a smell test: the options were vinegar, water or alcohol – naturally she offered me the booze. While I was still daydreaming about more sake something squeezed my arm checking for blood pressure, just as I was about to relax a little someone else started prodding around my stomach area without so much as small smile.
Finally someone else stuck some electrodes (is that what they’re called) to my chest for an ECG while another person greased me up for an ultrasound scan. Although I do feel slightly used and abused by the process, I’m fairly sure I’m not pregnant which must be a good sign, no?