I was in Manchester this week to attend the annual conference of the British Association of Dermatologists.
Whenever women of a certain age realize I'm a retired dermatologist they usually take me to one side to ask me whether Anne French's Deep Cleansing Milk is really worth the extra money compared to Oil of Tiddlypush. How would I know? Dermatology in Britain is not cosmetology, and dermatologists are not beauticians.
The titles of the papers at the conference would tell you that this is not about beauty products. Two consecutive papers on the Tuesday for example were entitled 'Multicentric epithelioid haemangioendothelioma of the penis' (don't worry lads, you'd know if you'd got it, even if your G.P. couldn't put a name to it) and 'Painful mutilating ulceration of the dorsolateral foot in diplegics with acroangiodermatitis of Mali' (no need for you girls to snigger, this could happen to you). Then on Wednesday we had 'Efficacy of mycophenolate mofetil in severe mucocutaneous lichen planus' (very painful, mouth and vulva too) and 'The Imre and perialar crescentic advancemant flaps for the reconstruction of upper cheek defects' for the would-be surgeons with a penchant for taking faces to pieces.
And if you knew all that, there were hundreds more titles to choose from.
Personally I didn't know any of that, but since I now only go for the craic with my doddery old mates (except I'm never quite sure how to spell it), I decided that at my age I'd benefit more from seeing the Lowry Centre in Salford.
What a transmogrification! You get there quickly, pleasantly and cheaply in a modern tram and the Harbour Quay area which I remember as being a dingy, smelly offshoot of the river Irwell is now a series of open water-basins with beautiful tower-blocks and avant-garde glass mini-sky-scrapers. Its much more reminiscent of Amsterdam than the Hades it used to be.
And it has the Lowry Museum! I know Lowry is not considered to be a great artist by some of the elitist London critics, but boy, did he evoke the atmosphere and life-style of Pendlebury and district. Maybe you had to live it to understand his genius, but his simple, even naive style of painting conveys more messages and sheer nostalgia for a Lancashire now departed than a thousand sharks or unmade beds.
Part of the afore-mentioned craic included a few football jokes, topical even though depressing.
It seems that the 3 Lions, emblem of English football pride, are to be replaced with the 3 Tampons... worst period we've ever had.
That joke probably reflects the fact that over 50% of dermatologists now are female. One of them told me that when she has a bad hair day she feels she must curl up and dye.