Or if it isn’t, it should be. For only one medical researcher combines deep penetrating insights with the courage to stage death-defying experiments on himself.
Many doctors, including five Nobel laureates, have gone down in history for exposing themselves to pathogenic, toxic and radioactive substances. Jesse Lazear exposed himself to yellow fever, Max von Pettenkofer to cholera, Daniel Zagury to AIDS – the list can go on and on.
But it’ll never be complete without the name of Jean-Claude Juncker, or Junk as he likes to be known to his friends among whom I proudly count myself.
Last July Junk came up with a daring hypothesis on the aetiology and symptomatology of sciatica. His courageous self-experimentation at the NATO summit then turned the hypothesis into scientific fact.
Junk’s breakthrough discovery was that sciatica is caused by the toxic substances added to Glenfarclas malt whisky. As with all such additives, the adverse effect is directly proportional to the amount consumed and the rate of consumption.
To support this theory Junk self-sacrificially, not to say heroically, consumed a full bottle of the dangerous beverage. Sure enough, he immediately developed a bad case of sciatica, featuring a unique clinical picture.
In addition to pain in the lower back, the virulent form of sciatica caused by Glenfarclas is evidently characterised by zigzagging, stumbling, losing one’s balance, trying to topple over backwards, laughing uncontrollably and for no good reason, kissing everything that moves and forcing foreplay on men and women alike.
At the time I started a campaign demanding that Glenfarclas labels carry a government health warning. Predictably the government, preoccupied with such marginal issues as Brexit, ignored my entreaty.
More evidence, they said, was required before such a step could be taken. My friend Junk, they added, should be encouraged to collect more research data. According to them, the corpus of evidence gathered hitherto only qualified as a promising start.
When I conveyed the bad news to Junk, he took it in his stride. “All we can do, Al,” he said, “is keep plugging away. I don’t care if I have to drink Scotland dry to help all those millions of sciatica sufferers.”
Junk was true to his word. He chose the Africa-Europe summit at Vienna’s Hofburg Palace as an appropriate site for his self-sacrificial self-experimentation. When I later asked him how much Glenfarclas he had consumed to bring on sciatica symptoms, Junk told me it was none of my bloody business.
“Let’s just say it was well in excess of LD50,” he said, yet again resorting to the arcane technical jargon that comes naturally to him but leaves ignoramuses like me bemused.
“LD50, you nincompoop,” explained Junk, sensing my bewilderment, “is Lethal Dose 50, the amount of an ingested substance that kills 50 per cent of a test sample. Well, I’m in the other 50 per cent.” he added proudly. “Tell that to those Brexiteer énculés.”
Even before that momentous event, Junk had staged a lower-level trial to obtain more evidence of sciatica causing bizarre amorous episodes. He had been filmed ruffling the peroxide hair and kissing the cheek of Pernilla Sjölin, the EU’s deputy head of protocol.
Aware of the episode’s medical significance, Miss Sjölin went along, which encouraged Junk to consume more whisky, thereby exacerbating the sciatica symptoms.
He then expanded his sample base by engaging Mrs May in a foreplay session, involving kissing, petting and murmuring sweet nothings into her ear, such as “You nebulous bitch, why don’t you pull your head out of your cul and tell me what the bloody hell you want.”
Yet it was the Vienna conference that was singled out for the full-scale experiment. This time it took several burly assistants to keep Junk upright, while he was laughing uncontrollably and trying to fall down.
The amorous symptoms of Glenfarclas-induced sciatica also manifested themselves with new clarity, this time transcending the line separating the sexes.
Yet again Junk selected a Croatian politician as his subject. If in July he had tried to feel up Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the comely president of that country, this time he focused on Croatia’s PM Andrej Plenkovic (“I thought he was Kolinda,” he later told me. “That’s sciatica for you.”)
When sciatica finally made it impossible for Junk to get up from his chair, he remained seated while trying to, in his parlance, ‘score’ with Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas. Evidently Junk had upped the dose of the control substance to produce a cleaner experiment.
Here’s a man willing to suffer excruciating pain for the sake of medical science. And not just pain.
Sciatica is known to produce other conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, fibrosis, pancreatitis and imprisonment for affray. Junk is heroically risking all those to advance human knowledge, and I can’t think of a worthier candidate for the Nobel Prize.
I’m also comforted to know that the future of the EU is in such safe, if slightly shaking, hands.
Junk isn’t dedicating his life to this other noble cause in his life for the measly €350,000 a year, plus unspecified expenses. Yet again he’s sacrificing himself for the common good – and how many of us can say the same?