Yesterday I got back the results from my annual check up / blood test, which I've been having done for the last three years now. Somewhat delayed because this year I watched myself indulging in classic male avoidance behaviour . . . because of certain family matters I won't go into here, I went in too early (May) for the test, so the Doc filled out the forms and told me to come back in August; which I didn't do, waiting until mid-October, all along stressing about what the results might be. It's interesting what they can find out just by looking at a bit (actually, it looked, in the one swift, nauseating glance I allowed myself, like rather a lot) of blood: cholesterol levels, blood sugar / diabetes, the chance that you have prostate cancer, kidney function, liver function . . . I was in the normal range for everything except the last which, given my habits, is hardly surprising. The first time I did this test Dr. Chan observed that I drink too much red wine and I said how to do you know that? but he went all sphinx-like and just muttered something about the enzymes. The next year, ditto; but this year I couldn't get to see Dr. Chan, who is in demand as a skin specialist, and made an appointment with Dr. Hsu instead . . . who, unprompted, explained: the alcohol causes wear and tear on cell membranes which then leak enzymes into the blood, which must then (I think) be cleaned up by the liver . . . or maybe it's just their presence signals excess of all this other junk that the liver has to clean up. Not sure. Dr. Hsu even went so far as to show me the figures: I was in the late seventies on the first test, went up into the mid-eighties last year, but this year was down at 68; below 55 is the safe or normal zone. This intrigued me too: the last two times I've been tested I abstained for the four or five days preceding the test but this year didn't bother. Which means, I think, that what is being measured is not so much usage as a state of being. As with anything of this nature, the fact that I can understand some little part of what I'm doing to myself makes it easier to come to some sensible resolution of the issue. Moderation, I suppose. Whatever that means.