I have just discovered that I have creases in my ear lobes. Big deal, you might say, except that diagonal ear-lobe creases are, to quote one recent medical study on the subject, ‘significantly associated with coronary artery disease and coronary risk factors’. How significantly? Creases in both lobes have a ‘positive predictive value’ of 89.4%, according to the study. Or, to put it another way, they mean a 77% increased risk of heart attack (33% if only in one lobe), according to another report.
I wouldn’t have known any of this if it hadn’t been for the Hadrian exhibition at the
For the umpteenth time, I did my by-now pat routine about Hadrian and his empire, Hadrian and his architecture, Hadrian and his statues, Hadrian and his wall. I curtailed my usual extensive discourse about Hadrian and his sex life, and opted against pointing out all the detail of the homoerotic sex scenes on the Warren Cup. (‘£1.8 million for a mug?’ ‘Bugger me!’ as the Private Eye cover had it when the silver goblet became the museum’s most expensive acquisition a decade ago.)
But I got enough interest from the nephew to keep me going with the Vindolanda tablets (two-millenia-old letters dealing with everything from requests for clean underwear to complaints about the ‘wretched little Brits’), the keys that the Jews took into the desert in the expectation of returning home during the revolt of 132-35, the hobnailed sandal imprint of a Roman soldier preserved on an ancient paving stone – and the diagonal creases on Hadrian’s earlobes.
These were first noticed on statues of Hadrian by Nicholas L Petrakis, a
I must have told this story about Hadrian and his earlobe creases a dozen times since the exhibition opened and no one, least of all me, had ever noticed any creases in my earlobes before now. Have they only just appeared? Old photos are inconclusive. Is my nephew imagining it? The mirror says no. Should I be worried? Medical opinion seems to be divided.
Both earlobe creases and heart disease become more common with age, so the studies may simply be reflecting this fact. (I wish.) And anyway, there’s just as strong a correlation, according to one of these studies, between heart disease and hairy ears, which I don’t have (or didn’t the last time I looked), so I’m taking the usual male approach to personal health issues, putting my fingers in both ears and pretending I never heard my nephew’s question in the first place.