I'm naked and I'm not alone. For now I've kept my socks on as I feel it may be a step to far to remove those as well.
A bright light is switched on and I bask in my naked glory for I feel no shame in what I present before the world in the form of my 44 year old body.
'Your amazing' a voice says from beyond my gaze. 'I am' I say to myself, 'I am bloody amazing, I should be preserved like this for the world to see, I should charge admission’.
It's not often you find yourself naked getting compliments from two middle-aged women and a medical professional who has the kindly air of a professor who has yet to discover the technological advances of the modern age.
I'm at a skin clinic for transplant patients at my local hospital. In this environment I'm a minor celebrity, a man with a new heart, doctors and nurses love me. I do my best to fulfil my brief and regale them with stories of 10km runs and my charitable deeds.
'Wow, you can hardly see it can you' says one nurse as she scans me up and down with a beaming smile. 'No' I say proudly. In any other situation a naked man might take that statement as a sleight on their manhood but luckily for me she is referring to my scar that's largely hidden behind a few wiry hairs.
This kind of glowing assessment is usual for those of us that have undergone a major operation and therefore I'm rarely concerned about whipping off my clothes and letting a nurse enjoy a good look at my incredible body. Sometimes I’m almost too eager. A request to move my shirt can invariably lead me to take it a stage further.
It seeps into my home life too. I’m rarely afraid of taking my clothes off, surely it’s only fair the general public get an airing of my goods as well as those kind folk that serve the NHS so well. Only a few months ago I removed all my clothes in the pub following a request by a young lady. To be fair she did pay £10 for that delight.
So as I lie here, relaxed in the glare of a bright spotlight, I’m feeling content and hoping for more compliments to come my way. The consultant moves his hands gently across my arms and legs. It’s soothing and his words gently bounce around the room. ‘Good, very good’. I smile.
In some ways I wish I had thought more about my appointment than I actually had. I knew I would be getting undressed yet I still went for my standard, far too small, ‘old man’ pants. Black with no real design I feel they are letting down my celebrity status. What I need are some eye catching pants! My mind starts to wander as I think what I could wear.
As I ponder the strength and weaknesses of Superman pants against ones with the phrase ‘Organ Donor’ written on them, one of the nurses strikes up conversation as the consultant continues his tour of my muscled torso.
‘I wish all of our patients were like you’ she says as her eyes light up at the amazing statement she has just made.
‘Yes. I do my best’ I say whilst secretly thinking that I must be the best patient ever. Why aren’t other patients like me? Why must I be the one to lead all these terrible patients from the darkness of their poor ways into the light that is my incredible talent for keeping my skin pale. These mere fools need me. I should lead and let the weak follow.
We are finally finished with the examination. I’m perfect in every way and the consultant didn’t even need his little magnifying glass on some bits, so that must be a good sign.
Before I can start to get my clothes on the more elderly nurse asks me a question. ‘Are you Claire Watson’s son?’
Of course the answer to this is a straight forward yes, but suddenly I have become more aware of my nakedness. The conversation has become personal and I’m not sure what the etiquette is for conversation with parental friends when undressed. Surely there are some rules.
In many ways I’m glad I’m not in the Superman pants now as that sort of thing has its way of getting back to mothers. She’s already ashamed of my beard so I could find myself banished from evenings of idle chit chat in front of an overly loud television.
After a short silence I respond positively whilst trying to maintain my dignity as I struggle to get my trousers on. ‘Why couldn’t she have asked me once I was clothed?’ I mumble under my heavy beard. ‘This would never happen to a proper celebrity like..’ My mind tries to think of a suitable celebrity but only Dale Winton pops up causing me even more cause for concern.
In the space of ten short minutes I have gone from an adonis with no shame to a little boy embarrassed by his underpants. Maybe that’s what this clinic is about? Making me so ashamed of my body that I need to keep it fully wrapped up even in temperatures of 30 degrees. No wonder my skin is fine.
The truth is of course I don’t follow any of the hospitals rules. I rarely use sunblock and I enjoy getting out in the warm weather. I am what’s known as in the medical world ‘lucky’.
Home again and I’m soon back to feeling proud of myself. Why should I feel any shame? I am perfect in my own unique way. I strip naked and wander round my flat with carefree abandon and not even a full length mirror could stop me.
I cook my dinner. The pan spits. I dress.