Saturday, August 4, 2007

0.010% below the what?

I’m looking to buy a flat at the moment, so I’m having to learn a new language: financial gobbledegook. Fixed rates, variable rates, arrangement fees, booking fees, chocolate turtle wax tax; it’s all foreign to me. Cats and dogs obviously can’t understand the meanings of words, but respond instead to tone and pitch. In a similar fashion I stumble through meetings with mortgage advisors. Depending on how they deliver ‘0.010% below the Bank of England base rate currently 5.750%’ I might frown or I may raise my eyebrows in mock surprise. When in doubt I frown with one eyebrow and raise the other, which I hope makes me appear knowledgeable, rather than tipsy. And then, right in the middle of this maelstrom of confusion they really twist the knife. Shoving a piece of official looking A4 under my nose, the mortgage advisor asks, “Do you have any of these medical conditions?” Up until recently I would have puffed my chest out like a caricature of an Italian-American and dismissed the question with a nonchalant flick of the hand. That was up until I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Now I push my glasses up the bridge of my nose and pore over the list more in the style of Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s at times like these that it really hits home that I have an illness that is permanent. UC is as much part of me now as having green eyes. Perhaps I’ve been subconsciously slow on the uptake, deliberately refusing to acknowledge that some things are going to be a bit different from now on. But it is starting to sink in. The penny, after much teetering, has finally dropped. Every day I discover new ways in which UC impacts on my life. Some are pretty insignificant, like I often now wear two pairs of underwear if I’m wearing light coloured trousers. And of course I have to hold my hands up and confess to mortgage advisors that all is not well in downtown Tum City. On a more positive note my knowledge of London’s public conveniences is second only to George Michael’s. Rather inconsequentially I wouldn’t be allowed to fight for Queen and country (bummer, eh?) It’s all new, and whilst not exactly exciting, it certainly is an experience. And like buying a flat, ulcerative colitis also comes with its own snazzy language to learn: gut gobbledegook. Flare-ups, IBS, proctitis, remissions…I’m learning.