EFF ONE

Oh my God! I've got RSI. The doctor just told me. I went in to see him because I thought I'd sprained a tendon in my right wrist but after the Doc had wiggled my arm about a bit (and I had winced manfully) he declared that I had a Repetitive Strain Injury caused apparently by too much typing.

How embarrassing! I think it is probably even worse than the last time I sprained my wrist. That was some time ago and involved raging teenage hormones and a series of fairly repetitive actions to calm the situation.

The medical profession is a sucker for initials. Not long after my teenage sprained wrist incident (the problem cleared up when I discovered that pretty typists could do the work for me) I had to visit a rather different kind of clinic.

"You've got NSU old chap," said the Doc. "No I haven't," I replied. "I've got a Yamaha RD250 and it's much quicker than an NSU."

The Doc looked puzzled, not seeming to know that an NSU Quickly was a popular moped at the time. Misunderstanding resolved, he explained I had a dose of Non-Specific Uro-something, which seemed like a pretty accurate description of my condition, as I couldn't be specific about which typist had given it to me.

The treatment involved penicillin (the ideal gift for the man who has everything) and a thing called a Probe. This time there was no confusion concerning methods of transport. This was not a 1990s Ford 2+2 Coupe but rather something nasty which a stern-looking nurse (with a beautifully trimmed pencil moustache) was holding in her very large hand. I won't go into details but it hurt rather a lot but not as much as the left hook that the nurse landed on me with her free hand when I happened to yell in excitement while trying to ignore my unfortunate situation by watching out of the window and witnessing a greyhound race at the stadium next to the clinic.

Apparently she thought: "Oh yes! Come on! Come on! Push it you wild animal!" was not an appropriate remark.

Thankfully, I no longer need to visit these "Special Clinics" but despite the trauma I'm still interested in motorbikes and I occasionally visit classic bike shows although I still have to be restrained from assaulting anyone foolish enough to have restored an old NSU.

But enough of this, perhaps I should explain why I am suffering from RSI. Ever since I stumbled through the front door from Japan I have been bashing away at the computer keyboard. This may be the off season but some of us glamorous F1 types still have to work. I have the dubious ability to translate things into English and as a result people keep coming to me asking me to turn their books into saleable items in the English-speaking world. The pay is good but the work is time-consuming, tedious and it seems to me that this year the subject matter is boring beyond belief.

My first work post-Suzuka was a large book about a sport in which one team was completely (and utterly) dominant. The cars kept finishing 1-2. Formula 1? No way. This was the World Rally Championship in which Peugeot has wiped the floor with the opposition. The team is sponsored by Total which just about sums up the domination of the flying French cars (built by the same mob who failed to build a decent F1 engine a few years ago).

I remember when rallying was a real adventure, a veritable marathon during which crews would go days and nights without sleep. It was exciting and dangerous (mainly because the disgusting pies and chips that we all lived off). Today, so they tell me, the WRC (I expect there is a medical translation) is as civilized as cucumber sandwiches and Pimms on the lawn at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival. This is apparently due to the "civilizing" influence of the be-stubbled David Richards, who is the Mr. Big of the WRC when he is not trying to turn BAR into a Formula 1 team. Today it is canapes and Chardonnay at the service points…

Having been totally bored by the exploits of Peugeot, I turned to my second book of the winter: the story of a racing series which was completely and utterly dominated by one marque and one man who was so successful that his World Championship title was wrapped up well before the end of the season.

Michael Schumacher and his Ferrari? No, wrong again. This was Valentino Rossi riding a Honda in something called MotoGP. (I am going to ask the Doc next time what that stands for).

But worse was yet to come… There was then an entire book dedicated to one race which was utterly and completely dominated by a bunch of Audis, which droned around in line astern for most of the race and finished 1-2-3. You would have to be a serious victim of Anoraksia Nervosa (I suppose they call it AN in medical circles) to want to wade through pages and pages of statistics about the Le Mans 24 Hours. I got the impression that the name of this anachronistic event was in fact reference to how long it takes to read the rule book, based on the scales of weight penalties designed to make all the cars equal.

Without any doubt, the best book I have translated thus far was the one which covered this year's FIA Formula 1 World Championship. It was packed with exciting incidents, controversy, larger-than-life characters and amusing tales, many of which even I had forgotten in the course of the year.

I guess that what I am trying to say is that perhaps we should look at Formula 1 in a more positive way and stop worrying about all the cries of crisis and boredom. It is still the most fascinating form of motor racing on the planet (or, come to think of it, off it as well).

By the way, my brush with the aforementioned moustachioed nurse did not put me off the caring profession, as the current Mrs. Eff was once a nurse. We met through yet another misunderstanding involving means of transport.

I was working as a hospital porter, one of my duties being to drive an electric cart around, towing lunch trollies to each ward. I would skid to a halt, unhitch the end trolley, plug it into to an electric socket to keep the food warm and, with a devil-may-care wave to the patients (and a flick of my silk scarf), I would accelerate away leaving them all breathless with excitement. One fine day, I was just getting back onto my cart, when I received a torrent of abuse from the future Mrs. Eff.

How was I to know that day's menu was cold meat, salad and ice-cream?

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