My old trouble: JOHN PEEL ON HIS ITCHY FEET

John Peel, broadcaster and journalist, is 57. He has been a Radio 1 DJ since 1967, during which time he has introduced punk, reggae, hip-hop and rap to an unsuspecting public.

I live in mortal fear of losing my athlete's foot; it is such a pleasure to me. I have had many years of satisfaction from scratching my itching feet and toes. When I am on air, I may occasionally scratch my feet during a long record and have even recommended it to my listeners. I would suggest to anyone that they should acquire it. It's made me a happier and more contented man.

It doesn't affect my daily life. I have to say I've never had any particularly embarrassing moments with my condition. I mean, I have never been caught by the Archbishop of Canterbury scratching my feet, but then again, I've never met the Archbishop of Canterbury.

You can regulate athlete's foot so that it doesn't become really painful. What's that stuff I use? You know, that powder that everyone's got? Mycel powder, that's it, which I use in varying degrees. My athlete's foot is now finely tuned so that I only get a tickly sensation verging on pain. It is the pleasure / pain principle that I particularly enjoy.

I suppose I am uplifted by the fact that I can control my athlete's foot. It is a very positive thing and it's taken many years of painstaking practice to achieve this level of skill. I love rubbing off all that dead white skin from my toes and if I'm lucky it spreads to my other toes. It tends to be at its best between the little toe and the one next to it on the left foot. When that happens, I am really happy.

The exact moment I got it is lost in the mists of pre-history I'm afraid, but it must have been while I was at school. Gradually over the years I realised that, rather than being a hindrance, athlete's foot could become one of life's great pleasures. I would never be without it. I don't think there are any health risks in having well-controlled athlete's foot. I don't wear any special footwear to encourage it. I don't have to. I have only got 2 or 3 pairs of shoes and some bedroom slippers and they do nicely. My athlete's foot doesn't stop me from doing what I do best with my size 81/2 feet, and that is playing football. Even at my old age of 57.

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