AS A VET’S wife I’ve long since become accustomed to seeing veterinary journals bearing gross pictures of animals with unsightly conditions or images of parasites magnified to look like the Spice Worms of Arrakis.
The articles that they accompany have riveting titles such as: Hypospadias in six dogs or the dazzling and fascinating Molecular characterisation of two strains of Anaplasma platys in Brazil.
Needless to say I’m not an avid reader of such articles, even when they’re by someone I know. My brother, for example.
He’s also a vet, and a learned expert on all matters equine. I must be a disappointing sister indeed when I’m shaking my head as he says: “Did you see my article on...?’’
Such journals are packed with advertisements for products to kill the ‘spice worm’ lookalikes, as well as a whole host of hideously unphotogenic parasitic wildlife – from flukes and fleas to ticks and tapeworms.
Where would the veterinary profession be without parasites?
So I wasn’t too alarmed to be greeted last weekend by a giant plastic parasitic lungworm, which loomed ominously over a display stand at a veterinary exhibition in Birmingham, its maw gaping widely.
In fact, I was only there for the packed lunch, having been lured to the exhibition by my brother, who said I would find it “very interesting.’’
As a non-veterinarian I doubted the validity of this statement.
Particularly as only a few hundred yards away the shoe shops of the Bullring were issuing a siren call.
Giant plastic parasites anyone, or this season’s latest gladiator sandals?
However, as a nosey Parker journalist I couldn’t help being just a little interested in the proceedings.
It’s not often that you get to see several hundred members of the genus Veterinarius Britannicus together in one place.
The annual small animal veterinary congress is one of the Man’s favourite events. He starts talking about it weeks before.
I can understand why because he is one of only three vets in his practice. At congress he feels to be part of something much larger and meets up with old buddies as well as making new contacts.
The exhibition is only part of the congress, which hosts lectures and many social, networking events. It’s not something that I’ve ever been involved with before, but this year The Man said I just had to come to a dinner, with dancing to live Motown performers.
I’ll Be There, I replied, because I am a child of the Motown generation.
The performers, average age 25, were far too young to have heard the classics first time round but they did the golden oldies proud, as did we (don’t believe the promises on packs of gel pads for high-heeled shoes – they don’t lead to hours of pain-free dancing).
I know it’s a sign of impending decrepitude when nostalgia starts to become personal rather than something people older than yourself are interested in, but Motown now soothes This Old Heart of Mine like Sunshine on a Cloudy Day.
The following day I left Birmingham, the giant worm and the Man-in-Charge to return to the Offspring who, worryingly, had rung up the night before to ask how to make the barbecue work.
“What was it like?” asked The Girl, as I inspected the piles of washing-up in the sink.
“It was great,’’ I replied, “especially the gigantic parasitic lungworm.’’
I’m guessing that in most families such a comment would provoke a reaction, but not in mine.
“Oh, that’s nice,’’ she said.