So, what is your favourite body part?

I was with my GP last week. Dr Liam is a good friend and a great doctor – servicing me since the first day he came to town… it must be 30 years ago. One of my knees (like my grandson saying; ‘I’m missing a shoe off one of my feet!’) was giving a spot of bother.

Even though the knee was not my principal reason for the visit, I mentioned it in passing. My GP is well aware of how important are my feet and legs. ‘After my head, the last things I want to go are my legs,’ I tell him. He gave my knee the same twist he might give an Oliver Plunkett’s hurler – and I waltzed out of the clinic.

That got me thinking as to what part of my body I would give up, if I had to choose one organ or limb to dispense with. What are the most important parts of our body? And before you snigger, Lads; if all our ‘private parts’ were lost, this entire planet would be uninhabited in a hundred years.

In the shower this morning and trying to think of column content on this subject, I had a good look at my body. (Not now… Gorls!) I decided to start by eliminating the least important body parts on show.

Can somebody, anybody, out there, tell me what male nipples are for? Since man first rose up off all fours, has any use been found for even one of them once? (Letters to the editor, please) When my then nine-year-old brother had his appendix removed, I overheard Dr Cox tell my mother the appendix isn’t needed in the body. Even as a child I asked myself the ceist; ‘if it isn’t needed, why has God put it in there in the first place?’.

Around that same time in my childhood, I found out what really is the most important part of my body. No, you will have to wade through the rest of this stuff before finding the answer…

Few will argue against the brain being the most important organ in the human body. It controls and coordinates all our actions and reactions. The dial on how we think, feel, store memories (as shown in Mick Duffy’s splendid new book, ‘The Making of Memories’) and what makes us human are all centred in the brain.

A close second on the importance scale has to be the heart. The heart is the vital organ that controls our circulatory system, which drives blood through the body. The heart strangely enough, gets more credit than the brain and frequently comes into conversation in various contexts. Leaving aside the romantic connotation, you might also hear; ‘the players showed great heart’; ‘the man has a big heart’; ‘the lady did it out of the goodness of her heart’; ‘home is where the heart is’; ‘have a heart’ etc, etc.

The lungs are next and work in partnership with the heart. The pair of them work in harmony, oxygenating blood and ensuring that every two legs like mine can stay moving.

So far we cannot volunteer to give up anything other than the male nipples and appendix; or maybe hair? What use is hair to us – especially that which… ah, you know, yourself.

My hands, despite contracting Dupuytren Contraction, must feel that the legs, doing a simpler job, get too much credit in comparison. The value of our arms and hands is simply beyond words. Just think of all the things you hold or pick up in a day with your hands. Without hands, not only could we play little sport, or even eat comfortably… so it is difficult to make a case for doing without them. Without arms, even our balance would be totally out of sync.

There are some truly amazing blind people that I know; and they lead full and fruitful lives; but I wouldn’t want my eyes to go either. What wonderful joy does the eye bring to our lives.

The liver and kidneys don’t get the same press as the heart and lungs. They are taken for granted until they give up. We can all do with a kidney less, but just the same…!

Now that you have the full picture, you are all craning your necks for the revelation as to what I believe to be the most important part of my body. My mother knew a lot and she taught me this, 70 years ago. It has to be the bit behind my ears. I grew up listening to ‘don’t forget to wash behind your ears’. Not a word about anywhere or anything else. I’m about to head out to school; ‘did you wash behind your ears?’ ringing in my head. So there you have it… and also why I have the cleanest ‘behind the ears’ in the county of Westmeath!

Don’t Forget

A lot of good arguments are spoiled by some fool who knows what he is talking about.