Saturday, 14 February 2009

The South African Army knee stress test

In truth , there are few advantages to being a middle-class , middle-aged white South African male...except for the biological imperative to drive a huge 4x4...

...and of course , being able to support the Springbok rugby team...

And so...last Sunday , driving through '7 o'clock in the morning'-empty streets ,on un-gritted roads , with big fatty globules of snow falling from a beaten pewter-coloured sky...indeed...the snow falling like tears from an English rugby supporters eyes...I was able to get to work on time... find a queue of 9 punters already waiting patiently at the door. In fairness the car park was empty with a pristine covering of snow , so at least some of them had walked to the Unit ....fair enough then...clearly these were all very ill people...

Sitting in my cubicle drinking directly from a 2-litre carton of OJ , and stuffing my face with pretzels covered in white fudge that I had bought in New York just 2 days earlier,I fired up the computer and prepared to do battle with the Great Unwashed.

"Mr Street ? Mr Carnaby Street?"

A young man dressed in the Contemporary Student style stood up ,switched off his iPod and walked briskly into the Unit.

He was wearing skin-tight yellow jeans and what the ever-trusty Julian described as 'a pistachio-green cardigan with a pale violet romantic -style shirt'.

Say what ?

He was also wearing shoes of the type that I remember from my distant past were called 'winkle-pickers'-long,thin,very tight shoes, that come to a sharp point

"Right...good morning...what can I do for you today then?"

Well...what it is...obviously...its my knee...its painful and gets in the way of my course...

"Okay...and how long has it been painful then ?"

Well first got painful when I played a football game in November last year...

"That's over three months ago...jah?"

Yes...well...I didn't want to bother anyone...but I'm still getting some pain in the knee occassionally...ummh...I've played a few games of football and sometimes its got a little sore...

"Did you take anything for the pain ?"

No I don't like taking medicine...


Its just that it gets in the way of my course...when its painful...

"Okay...and what course are you doing ? Are you in the Army ? Fire brigade ?"

(I can see Julian standing at the door , smirking)'m at University...I'm majoring in International Property Marketing...

"Really ? That's an actual University course then ? You really need to go to varsity to learn how to sell timeshare ?"

Well !! Its a very difficult course !!

"Uhh huh...and whats your minor subject then ? 'Latte etiquette' ? 'Nineteenth-century paisley patterns' ? The mandatory 'dole queue and my future life in it' course ? "

No!! I'm also doing 'media studies'...

"Of course you does this 3 month old injury affect you then ?"

Well...its painful sometimes when I walk up the stairs to the lecture room...and I'm worried that there is something seriously wrong with my knee...

"Okay...but not actually worried enough to come in to get it seen too any time in the past 3 months though ?"

Well...first there were finals ...and then Halloween...and then Christmas... and then new year parties...and then I went skiing with some friends....and you know ...I try to go to a club most I suppose ...really...that this is the first chance I've had to come in...

"Okay...well as long as that makes sense in your head then..."

He gets undressed , hops onto the bed and despite the worlds most thorough examination I can find absolutely nothing wrong with his pale pasty knobbly little knees.

(Did I mention that I hate young people !)

"Well Sir...I can assure you that there is nothing wrong with your knee...the muscles and ligaments and tendons and nerves and veins and arteries and cartilage that make up your knee-, that are around your knee-, and that generally support your knee... are all normal..."

So whats wrong with my knee then?

"Well...I think that you had a very mild sprain...that didn't completely resolve as you firstly didn't take any analgesia... and secondly...continued to go out dancing every night..."

Oh...are you couldn't be missing something could you ? Its just that you sound Australian ? Have you done all the tests an English nurse would do?


"Good grief...why don't you just accuse me of being a paedophile ?"

"That's a South African accent...still...all you Welsh people sound the same to me..."

I'm not Welsh!!

"Sure...anyway Sir...I can assure you that I have done all of the internationally recognised knee tests..."

"However...since you ask...there are some tests that I learnt when I was in the South African Army...and we had to test the paratroopers knees...I would be happy to do those tests if you want ? "
"They are ...vigorous...even a little painful...but if you don't mind...then I can assure you that I don't mind either..."

Okay....that's fine....what should I do then ?

"Well if you'd like to stand up...just over there by the door...if you don't mind I'm going to ask some of my colleagues to come and watch this as they haven't seen these tests before ?"


"Julian...please ask UglyJulie and The Curate to join me..."

(The Curate is a colleague who last year was going to become an Anglican priest until she discovered...much to her horror and amazement...that not only was she expected to live a moral and ethical life..but that she actually had to believe in God)

"Right...the first test is to check the flexibility of your knee joints...their ability to act as a shock absorber..."
"So...please stand on your you see the floor tiles...some are white and some are black ?"


"Well...I want you to run down the passage way...on your tiptoes...only on the white squares..."

"And then...when you reach the end,turn around and run back-also on tiptoes...but this time on the black squares...okay?"

"And I want you to run to the end and back three times in 2 minutes...Okay ?"

And off he lurches...looking as if he has a carrot stuck up his rectum...bouncing on his tiptoes...arms held out to the side to try and stay balanced...bouncing... from square to square...bouncing off of the walls...the wheelchairs...the linen trolley...and a wastepaper basket Julian has kicked into the passage

Exhausted...he makes it safely back to the bed.

"Okay ? Feeling alright ? Do you see then how springy and absorbent your knees are then ?"


"Right...the second test...we're going to check that your joints are properly lubricated-as it were..."

"So...lie on your back on the bed and stick your legs up in the air as if you are about to ride a bicycle...okay ?"

He duly does that, supporting his hips with his hands.

"Now...I want you to 'peddle' really fast for 2 minutes...I really want you to work up a sweat...and...'GO'! "

He peddles furiously for the 2 minutes coughing and gasping , quickly turning purple...his violet shirt soon drenched in sweat.

"Okay...stop now...just catch your breath"

Exhausted he lies on the bed trying to catch his breath...

"Right...the final test then is to stress all the surrounding muscles...those in your thigh and in you make sure that they can support your long bones and your knees...Okay ?"

"So...have you seen a Cossack know how they squat right down on the floor and kick their legs out in front of them ?"
"Well...I need you to do that ten times...I'll clap my hands and when I do that you have to hop from leg to leg...Okay?"

He duly squats on the floor with his right leg extended in front of him...

Clap !...up he jumps...extends his left leg and squats down again
Clap !...up he jumps...extends his right leg and squats down again

Amazing...he manages to do it ten times in a row...
Even Julian is impressed

" you see ...the muscles that support your knees are working superbly..."

" you think that I've missed out on any of the tests that an English nurse would have done ?"

Thank you...

Even The Curate believes in God now!


  1. Having stumbled upon this blog, I am instantly a fan ... except perhaps for that bit about the Welsh (I'll lend your apologies to my grandpa!). My accent has people consigning me to the land of the Kiwi not the Springbok, but I get them back by feeding them boerewors, babotie, melktert en potjiekos; and teaching my kids Afrikaans which totally throws them!
    I am already looking forward to my next visit ;)