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Laurence Marks's prostate problems

Features | By Laurence Marks | March 2019


A new urine test has revolutionised the way doctors deal with prostate complaints. Laurence Marks gets into trouble with the police when he's caught short on the motorway

A new urine test helps doctors discover whether aggressive therapy is needed for a prostate diagnosis. Laurence Marks got into trouble with his prostate when he was caught short on the motorway.


‘I’m afraid I have some bad news,’ said the consultant urologist.

‘Am I going to live?’ I asked.

‘For many decades, I hope,’ he replied. ‘The bad news is you have an enormously enlarged prostate.’ He showed me my MRI scan. ‘You see, your prostate should be the size of a peanut, but yours is the size of a small mandarin.’

So this would account for the fact that for the past decade I had to get up as many as ten times a night to have a pee, only to find, when I reached the toilet, that nothing happened. I would stand there for ten minutes, waiting for so much as a drip, but all the time feeling that, if I didn’t have an urgent leak, I would burst.

I am sure many of my fellow male Oldie readers know the feeling.

Living in the Gloucestershire countryside and driving in and out of London was proving a severe test. I couldn’t motor for three miles without having to go in search of a toilet. When there wasn’t one available, I was in trouble.

I started to compile a guide to where all men’s public conveniences were situated on the A40 and M40. I could have written a book. I was asked to. A bestseller I was told, for my urologist said that millions of men over 50 suffer from prostate-related problems.

For my birthday, my wife bought me a HeWee, a sort of plastic receptacle in which you can have a pee on the move, or stuck in traffic, which was far more often the case. It was of some use, except the inside of my car started to smell like a motorway toilet.

Returning from a party in London one evening, driving casually along the A40, I was suddenly gripped with the urge to get to a toilet pretty damn quickly.

The one I usually used, opposite the Hoover Building, was out of order. I knew the next public toilet was at the Beaconsfield service station but that was a good 20 minutes away and I wasn’t sure I could make it. I popped into a Lebanese grocery store to see if they sold StayDry pants for men, but then thought, ‘Even if they do, where am I going to put them on?’

I made the decision to try and make it to Beaconsfield. If only someone hadn’t nicked my HeWee. Yes, really. I had left it on the roof of my car (empty) when filling up with fuel, and, when I paid my bill and returned to my car, it had gone. Who would want a secondhand HeWee?

So the dash to Beaconsfield service station began. The urge to get to a toilet was becoming imperative. It was a race against time.

I was just five miles from my destination. I put my foot down and was travelling at 105mph. Then suddenly, in my rear-view mirror, I spotted a blue-lighted traffic cop car.

Should I stop? Do I race the cops to the service station loo? I opted for the latter. I continued at a steady 107mph but, just two miles from destination toilet, I was being flashed by the police car. I continued. They overtook me, blue lights flashing. Two policemen pulled me over and both got out.

‘Turn off your engine and get out of your car,’ they instructed.

I did so, but then went for broke.

‘Look, constable…’

‘I’m a sergeant. And do you know what speed you were travelling?’

Believing my bladder would burst, I said, ‘Look. I don’t care what speed I was doing. I am in desperate need of a toilet. I have a prostate the size of a kumquat and, if you keep me here talking, I will have no alternative other than to pee all over your boots.’

They looked at one another. They had never heard an excuse like this before. ‘Then you better go inside that bush and then we will nick you.’

So I did. Relieved, I returned to the still flashing blue light and was told I was doing 108 in a 70mph zone and that meant a prolonged driving ban.

I explained what an enlarged prostate was – neither knew – and its effects, and how it was sure to happen to them when they became oldies. Once again they looked at one another.

‘And it will put paid to your sex lives.’

‘It won’t?’ they asked.

‘It will,’ I assured them.

That did the trick. I could see them discussing life in 30 years’ time.

‘So, you going to nick me then?’ I said. ‘It would be such a pity as I have memorised every toilet from London to Cheltenham.’

They thought, they laughed, and then the sergeant declared, ‘No, not this time. Go on, piss off.’

‘If only,’ I said.


This story was from March 2019 issue. Subscribe Now