I’m sitting in a doctor’s surgery waiting room in St.Margarets. Lisa is sat next to me. We are here to speak with someone about the injections required for our honeymoon trip to Africa, which is taking place in a few months time. I’m not very awake, and I’m wondering why I thought it wise to wear a pair of Spiderman y-fronts, given that there’s every possibility I may have to drop trouser for a couple of medicated jabs in the rear end, thereby not only revealing a hairy backside but also some highly immature undergarments.
Waiting rooms are incredible opportunities to enjoy my 2 favourite hobbies of people watching and eavesdropping. There are 3 other people sat here with us, so my ears are pricked and my eyes are peeled.
• Peter, an elderly gentleman with crutches and a t-shirt saying “Campaign for Surreal Ale” on it. I presume he is here to see the doctor about his severe wind problems.
• Bernice, a small old lady with a high waistband, who I presume is here for some light conversation, a seat and some foot ointment.
• Courtney, an overweight teenager with large unorthodox jewellery. I presume she is here to get her mobile phone surgically removed from her hands, as she seems unable to put it down.
Lisa gets called in first.
Whilst she is with the doctor, I can hear two female voices coming from behind the raised ‘APPOINTMENTS’ counter (if you are reading this aloud, I mean to say ‘raised’ as in ‘it is high’, not ‘razed’ as in it’s ‘burnt to the ground’).
One voice is common, cynical and gruff. The other is merely common and cynical.
The phones are ringing off the hook and the gruff receptionist’s customer service skills appear questionable. She varies from being abrupt to being soulless and monotone.
“You’ll just have to wait another week”, she says pointedly.
Courtney, chatting loudly on her mobile despite the withered A4 sign on the notice board indicating its prohibition, impresses me with the extraordinary randomness of her conversations.
Due to her volume, it wasn’t hard to overhear, and I could even make out a muted squawk from the poor sod on the other end of the line. Courtney was busy reflecting that whether someone liked baths or showers was rather like whether someone liked cats or dogs – “You either like cats…or you like dogs” she said, following this decisively with “But…I like cats and dogs… AND I like baths and showers.”
Next up, whilst admitting she’d spent many a sleepless night “watching UK Gold into the early hours”, Courtney also revealed that much of that time was due to the low-brow comic lure of “Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave Em”.
It’s always really nice to come across people who are their own unique comedy character. You can just sit back and enjoy.
I could listen to her all day.
Sadly I eventually get my name called out, by a very attractive woman who pops up from behind the non-burnt down appointments desk. Surely this pretty face isn’t coupled with the gruff voice I’ve been listening to for the last 30 minutes?
Why, it is.
She’s a diamond who seems to have actually swallowed the rough.
There I was expecting a burly arm-wrestler of a girl, capable of tipping cars with her breath. Once again I learn that I should not be so quick to judge. However, given my appalling lack of literary knowledge and tact and general awareness of what's going on, maybe some slack should be cut when I do judge a book by its cover. After all, I seldom delve any deeper than the cover, so it’s all I have to judge the book by.
I get shown into what appears to be a kitchen.
Indeed, someone enters at one point to turn on a kettle and grab some garibaldi biscuits from a cupboard.
My nurse’s name is Hannah. It becomes clear that she is not the regular nurse, but a stand-in, and is not even supposed to be working today. This becomes clear due to her obvious disorientation, her failure to locate the most basic of stationary and her complaints that she’s not supposed to be at work today because she is standing in for someone else. More worryingly for me, she is perplexed as to why I am here at all. When I tell her that I’m here for a lobotomy, she seems even more confused. I realise that for the sake of my health and general well being, I should cut out any inappropriate humour. Not only is Hannah a few chicken wings short of a family feast box meal, but also she has needles, jars of fluid, rubber gloves, and, I assume, a cold pair of hands.
Hannah reaches for some equipment: “I think this is what you need (holds up a small bottle of yellow fluid)...but, has it changed colour? It used to be pink, I’m sure.”
“I’m not a doctor, I have no way of knowing” I reply, perplexed.
“Neither am I”, she utters quietly, amusing herself.
She asks me whether I’m nervous about injections, as some people can feel queasy, and even faint on occasion. I inform her that I quite like them, having built up a tolerance during years spent in hospital wards. As a means of conversation, I go on to explain that my brother does however always faint whenever he’s injected.
“My eldest does too, all the time, and he hates going to the doctors…but he still says that he wants to get into medicine”, she says.
“Maybe he’s joking when he says that”, I suggest tentatively.
Before I know it Hannah has injected me three times in the arm, with all the sensitive poise, subtlety and grace of a Fatima Whitbread javelin throw.
“You’ll need to come back for another round of injections on the 16th April.”
“Isn’t it the 16th of April today?” I ask.
“Sorry dear, I meant the 20th of May”.
Of course you did.
She also mentioned that we would need to come back in 2020 for certain booster injections, and that maybe we should make a note of that in our diaries. I told her that I might just write it on my hand instead.
On exiting the kitchen, I figure that the only way to alleviate the madness is to add to it, so I walk out into a packed waiting room hunched over and clutching my buttocks, as if in severe discomfort.
“You told me it was supposed to be in the arm”, I say mischievously, in Lisa’s general direction. She laughs, louder than I expected, as others look on in disbelief.
Peter the pensioner laughed too, whilst simultaneously slapping his right thigh, which pleased me.