why you should be careful in bakeries

Have you ever tried explaining to a consultant opthalmologist why you have a poppy seed in your left eye?  I have.

"Have you been eating poppy seed rolls?" he said, while he puzzled over the seed held between his tiny surgical tweezers and I sat, relieved and pain-free.

"Er, no," I said, replacing my glasses and wondering just how bright orange my left eye was after having those fluorescent eye drops put in it. Should I ask him to do the other one, then at least my alien invader look would be symmetrical? "The last poppy seed roll I had was in the 1980s," I told him. "And the irritation only started this morning. I think I'd have noticed, although I have been pretty busy since then, I guess."

Neither of us could work out how I'd gone to bed at night without a poppy seed in my eye and woken up in the morning with an eye made out of Velcro and feeling like I was just about to give birth through my eye socket. So, once it was out and he'd checked there were no other problems (eg the odd bit of toast lodged in the retina, a couple of cornflakes nestling under the eyelid) he sent me home.

When I got back from the eye unit, proud and happy, having duly given birth to Poppy Seed, I walked through the front door, slipped off my coat and asked Husband: "Did you by any chance put a poppy seed in my eye while I was asleep last night?"

I should perhaps have said 'hello' first. It would have helped with that initial moment when he thought I was accusing him of some strange marital practice that I'd read about but he hadn't. Once we'd cleared that up, he denied everything, of course, suggesting that maybe I'd eaten a poppy seed roll that day but hadn't remembered, "like you can eat half a box of Milk Tray and not remember," he said, his eyes as guileless as ... as guileless as .... Crippen.

I'll never know how that poppy seed got there. But the opthalmologist was most intrigued. At one point I thought he was going to take a photo of me and my poppy seed progeny, like they do when you go into hospital with a weird pustular rash or a suppurating wound with lots of purple in it that would look good on a magazine cover. This could be, I thought, my chance to do a bit of modelling, although I'd been thinking Vogue and not the British Medical Journal. Perhaps, I pondered, the publicity could get me a literary agent: they're always looking for writers with something different about them, and although it didn't rate alongside being locked in a coal cupboard at the age of three with my triplet baby sisters, or prostituted on the streets of Grimsby by a wicked auntie, it was definitely unusual.

In the end, I'm glad he didn't ask me to be photographed. He might have had to put the poppy seed back in, and as every new mother knows, once these things are out, it's best to keep it that way.

But I'd like to have been in the pub that night with that opthalmologist. I bet he wasn't short of a story or two.


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