THE last time I was stung by a wasp was probably in the summer of 1998 during the last proper cricket match I was ever lucky enough to play.

I was recovering from a knee operation but my team, Barnard Castle, was short so I pulled on my whites.

Great Ayton batted first, and, after a couple of months out in the operating theatre, I fielded like a flat-footed fool with leaden limbs.

By teatime, I was parched, so I opened a can of Lilt before tucking into the fine array of sandwiches, scones and cakes. I then returned to the dressing room...

Just as you should never return to a lit firework on Bonfire Night, so you should never return to an opened can of Lilt on a hot summer’s day. As I drank in the sweet fizzy nectar, a wasp inside the can exploded furiously in my mouth, stinging my lower lip several times.

The Ayton tea ladies came to my aid with some white wasp-ease cream which they lathered all over my lower lip. It had swollen so that it protruded some distance from my face, and I looked like one of those Amazonian tribal leaders that popstar Sting used to parade when he was trying to save the rainforest.

I went into bat at number nine – surprisingly high for me – and I quickly scored two runs – surprisingly high for me.

But then, as the bowler was running up, I noticed that the Cleveland Hills ran directly behind the sightscreen. I remember thinking how attractive it was, until I noticed the ball coming towards me. I took a big stride down the wicket to meet it and play a forward defensive shot, but at the crucial moment the ball disappeared from view beneath my big white flowerpot saucer of a lower lip and struck my pad.

I looked up at the umpire and, with the Cleveland Hills rising attractively behind him, he rose his finger and gave me out.

I tell this story because people seem to enjoy my health stories. Just this week I received a wonderfully long letter from a reader about how reflexology may be the answer to the gout condition that lots of people ask after. Thank-you.

The gout in my ankle flared up at the weekend. I had started taking tablets to stop the gout, but you should only start the stop-tablets once the gout has stopped otherwise it will start again. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether the gout has fully stopped until you start the stop-tablets. If starts again, you know it hadn’t stopped and you have to stop the stop-tablets until it stops. Then you start the stop-tablets which should lead to a long term cessation unless they cause it to start again.

To make matters worse, as I was creeping up the stairs, I jolted to avoid the pain in my swollen ankle and heard a tooth crack in my head. Now I have to see a dentist.

Next day, I was cutting my mother-in-law’s grass and ran the machine over a deep crack by a tree root. I presumed the crack had been caused by the drought, but the next moment I looked down and my gouty ankle had been engulfed by a ball of angry wasps, furious at having their nest disturbed by a petrol-driven mower.

I wait 20 years for a sting and then I get at least three – two on the front and one on the back – on my flabby, puffy gout-riddled ankle.

Reflexology may indeed be the answer.