I’ve got this friend who had a nosejob. It wasn’t cosmetic or anything. She just had trouble breathing. Something to do with having broken it playing kiss chase in the playground as a kid. At night she snored like a fat man, so her husband told her to get it done, he’d pay for it it, no problem.
The day she went for the appointment, she turned up at the clinic to find two guys with the doctor, neither of them looking particularly doctor-like. Or trainee doctor-like. She said they looked like hipsters, and about halfway through her consultation she said to the doctor, hope you don’t mind me asking, but who are these two?
The doctor went red and said, oh, yes, sorry, did no one tell you? They’re musicians.
My friend looked at them and smiled and they smiled. She said: and they need to be here because…?
The doctor went redder and said, did no one really tell you? I thought I made it clear that you had to be informed.
My friend waited for him to go on. Eventually, he said: they’re here for the surgery. They would like to record it, if that’s okay with you.
My friend said, record it? Like film it?
The musicians smiled and shook their heads.
The doctor, even more red, went on: no. Record. The sound only. They want to use it to make a song or composition, is that right?
He looked over at the two musicians. One of them said, yes. The other said, yes, if you don’t mind. We’d like to record the sounds of the surgery and the noise of your nose, and turn it into an electronic piece. We’re not sure what yet, but we won’t do anything without your consent. Or use your name if you don’t want us to.
My friend asked the doctor: are they paying you? And the doctor said, yes, a courtesy fee.
She looked back at the two musicians and said: and will you pay me?
The two of them glanced at each other. One of them – she can’t remember which – said, if you like. How much were you thinking about?
My friend thought about what she could do with the money her husband was giving her, and said: have I heard of you?
Both musicians shrugged. One of them said: Probably not.
She went on: what are you going to do with this composition?
One replied quickly: put it on our next album. A concept album about surgery and science.
She asked them if they expected to sell a lot.
They looked at each other again. The one on the right said: depends what you mean by a lot.
My friend said: put it this way, would I make anything if I asked for a percentage of the royalties?
They told her how much their last album had sold, and she did some quick sums in her head. After a moment, she said: how about you pay for my surgery?
They both looked at each other, their faces weighing the pros and cons. They obviously knew already how much it cost.
My friend said, well? And they both shrugged and said, okay, it’s a deal. Who do we make the cheque out to?
After the surgery, my friend bought a new car and dined out on the story for months. She’d got a new nose for free and her old nose might be famous.
When I heard about it over dinner at theirs, I asked her where she thought the two hipsters got their money from. She shrugged it off: most of these kids have rich mummies and daddies, don’t they? They let them spend their money on anything.
After dinner, me and my husband went through to the living room while my friend made coffee and her husband filled the dishwasher. I was flicking through The Times when I stopped and called for her to come quickly.
She came with a tray, four cups and a cafetiere. I showed her the paper: is this those hipsters?
She dropped the tray. Her husband came rushing through. I showed him the article. He looked at the spilt coffee and his wife, and said: looks like we could’ve got more than a car and a nose, eh?