Big toe experience gave me a lesson in being nannied

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puts Cheryl Gibbs in a festive mood

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My parents were neither posh enough nor rich enough to employ a nanny to look after me – but 60 years beyond the cradle I’m beginning to find out what it would have been like.

Last week I had a chiropody check-up and the woman frowned at a small patch of peeling skin.

‘That looks like the start of athlete’s foot,’ she said.

‘Best get some cream before it gets any worse.’

So I toddled off to Boots, where the young woman behind the counter presented me with that desperate smile common to those who think they are about to be asked a trick question.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

I should imagine ‘please may I have a tube of athlete’s foot ointment?’ is about as uncomplicated as it gets in a chemist’s shop.

‘Yeah, but are you taking any other medication?’ was the rather unexpected reply.

‘Plenty,’ I assured her, ‘but I don’t rub any into my feet.

‘Be assured my big toe is not in imminent danger of an overdose.’

The pharmacist was summoned, and when I refused to apprise him of my entire medical history in public simply to forestall the annoyance of a tingling toe, he decided I was not to be trusted with a pot of cream which had now assumed the aura of hemlock.

It was time for the fight back to begin.

‘By the way,’ I said, ‘on my way into your emporium I could not help but notice the poster on the door offering me a chance to win a ticket for the Olympics.’

He beamed contentedly.

‘And apparently, all I have to do to be eligible for such a prize is take a test for chlamydia.’

He nodded, but the confidence drained somewhat from his smile.

‘But since I always thought chlamydia was a spring-flowering shrub, perhaps you would be kind enough to describe this infection to me in some detail so I can judge whether it’s worthwhile my entering.’

He declined – which is why my foot is still itching and a seat at London 2012 remains a distant dream.