But no one talks about haemorrhoids

I AM a back sufferer.

This doesn’t mean I have a bad back. I have a back like an octopus’s forearm. It means I am surrounded by people with bad backs and I have to listen to them.

By observation I have noted these natural laws of back suffering:

  • Two or more back sufferers in one room can dominate a conversation more effectively than an evangelist.
  • All back sufferers present will tell personal stories of horrifying or incurable back suffering until a clear winner emerges.
  • Once a winner has been established the conversation will turn to People Who Can Help You.

  • Everyone knows a chiropractor/osteopath/masseur who is Just Wonderful and can.

  • None of them will be any use whatsoever to you and your particular back problem.

  • No two people know the same Just Wonderful chiropractor/osteopath/masseur.


I have tried to arrest the ghastly boredom of these conversations by announcing proudly that I have a very strong back that has never needed attention. It has the same effect as announcing that eating asparagus makes your urine smell funny.

Why are backs so interesting? I’m fairly certain huge numbers of people have haemorrhoids. At any cocktail party it’s a fair bet that at least 50 per cent of those present have a haemorrhoids story to tell (and let me assure you I’m not one of those either). But they don’t. They sip their margueritas and wait for someone to mention a bad back.

And there’s another curious thing — about rule 6.

How come no two people know the same excellent chiropractor etc?

Do chiropractors have just one client each? Or are they merely urban myths, like the couple with poodle in the Chinese restaurant?

It will come as no surprise to you that my wife has a bad back. She has a chiropractor but, curiously, she still has a bad back.

Three weeks after she visits him her bad back slowly melts away — clear proof her chiropractor is Just Wonderful.

I have suggested that perhaps it would have got better on its own (and we’d be $80 better off) but that merely shows How Little I Know and that All I Care About Is Money

Meanwhile I bring in the logs and carry the watering can and shoulder the bags of cement.

Did you know that more work time is lost through bad backs than through any other cause?

The research doesn’t say whether this is because of bad-back conversations, but I have my suspicions.

And did you know that bad backs are frequently suffered by people who never carry logs, water or cement?

Using a computer mouse can do it. Or cleaning your teeth!

And did you know, too, that there’s no escape!!

I am not a bad-back sufferer and I do not need an alternative to a haemorrhoids conversation but look — I’m talking about bad backs!

Maybe we’re all being taken over by an alien life form with backs like dead twigs.

Unlike my fellow back sufferers, however, I cannot top their stories about how awful it is and I do not know a chiropractor who is Just Wonderful (nor, for that matter, one who is Just Terrible).

But it’s true about the effect of asparagus on your urine.