END OF STORY

Share
`Whatever you do, Jel," said Posh Tony, looking for the ashtray, "don't give them your name and address."

"Here you go," I said, prodding out the one on the dashboard.

"Because if you test positive," he continued, knocking his ash in with uncharacteristic precision, "the hospital will pass on your details to the big mortgage and insurance companies, and before you know it you'll be on every database in the country."

So typical of Posh Tony this. After 52 years lived on or below the poverty line he is as alert as a trained setter to the wiles and injustices of a capitalist system that keeps him there so easily. Without taking my eyes off the road, I tried to look suitably horrified at such a cynical abuse of confidentiality.

"So when the nurse gives you the form to fill in, promise me, Jel, that you'll give them a false name and address."

I gave him my solemn word that I would lie through my teeth at every opportunity.

When we arrived at the "special clinic", Posh Tony took it upon himself to act as spokesman for both of us. Leaning on the hatch like John Wayne just in from a six-month cattle drive, he said to the nurse. "We've come for an Aids test."

"Oh yes," said the nurse encouragingly.

"And we've both got a rash that wants looking at."

"Jolly good. And are you ... together?" said the nurse.

This shook Tone, who is fanatically heterosexual and likes to be seen as such.

"No. We are just mates," he said.

Tone then told the nurse, and the rest of the waiting room, about his rash. His GP had advised him to treat it with yoghurt, he said, but he could only afford one carton a week, which his flatmates usually found and ate before he'd finished using it. The nurse calmly said that he should spare us all the details for the time being and just fill in the form.

We took our forms over to the waiting area. Carefully omitting any information that might prove useful to insurance companies, we completed them and Tone returned them to the hatch.

"Have you been here before, Mr Tench?" said the nurse, glancing at the forms.

"Oh yes," boasted Tone.

"And what about you, Mr Shearer?"

"I'm afraid not," I said.

The nurse turned away for a moment to consult her records. Then she said to Tone, "Are you sure you've been before? You're not on the records."

"Try looking under Pike," said Tone helpfully. (He had once held the record, I believe, for the upper reaches of the river Roding.)

"I might have called myself Pike."

She looked again. Nothing under Pike either.

"Bream?" he offered.

Before they took our blood, we were called to the consulting room individually.

"May I call you Alan?" said the genial counsellor as he shook my hand and motioned me towards a chair.

"Please do," I said.

He explained to me that we were just going to have an informal chat to ascertain what kind of "contact" had prompted my visit, in which he hoped to allay my fears, which had probably grown out of all proportion to the actual risk of infection. He smiled a lot as he spoke in order to underline the fact that he bore me no ill will. He was on my side.

"So. Alan. Why do you want to test for HIV?"

"Well," I said. "I went to Malaysia for a week and I got a bit carried away."

"And how many `contacts' were there during that week?" he said, smiling.

"About 30," I said modestly.

He looked a bit crestfallen at that and scribbled something on my file. "And were these contacts ... homosexual or heterosexual?"

"Both," I said, glad to be able to give him a concrete answer. "Some of them were with lady-boys, I think."

His crest fell even further and his pen went into action again.

Then, trying to look on the bright side, he said, "Between you and me, unless you've been sharing needles the chances of contracting the HIV virus even from 30 high-risk contacts are slim. You weren't sharing needles with anyone, were you?"

"I wouldn't mind dying anyway," I told him. "Why prolong it?"

Posh Tony was already in the chair giving blood when I went in. "Ah, Mr Rainbow-Trout," I said. "What news?"

"Salt baths," he said despondently. "I've got to have salt baths."

"What's wrong with that?" I said.

"I haven't got a bath," he said.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Account Manager

£30 - 38k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a digitally focussed Account Man...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP / MySQL / HTML / CSS

£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this digital ...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Cashier

£16500 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity exists ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Ancient Labour rivalries – Bevan versus Morrison

John Rentoul
Labour leadership hopefuls, from left, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn on the BBC  

If you’re thinking of voting for Jeremy Corbyn, here are my promises to you

Andy Burnham
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935