I’m at the doctors. Handily, the doctor’s surgery is just around the corner, so I usually just pop over in my pajamas. (This serves several purposes. Firstly, it is exceedingly comfortable. Secondly, it encourages the doctor to believe I am truly sick, and therefore to be more generous with the ‘good drugs’. Thirdly, it’s nice for clothes that rarely get to go outside to get some fresh air).
The nice receptionist greets me. ‘Hello,’ she says warmly. I reply sullenly, ‘I hate waiting rooms. I’m bored. I’ve only just arrived and already I’m bored.’ The receptionist looks at me oddly, so I take some tissues (I don’t strictly ‘need’ these, but it seems economically foolish not to take free things. I take some leaflets on heart disease for the same reason) and wander into the waiting room. The waiting room has the world’s oddest selection of magazines. I weigh the relative merits of ‘Country Life’ (I could finally learn what people do in the country) with ‘Now!’ (I could see if the cover lady manages to escape from the ghost of her ex-boyfriend). Waiting rooms are boring, so these kind of choices are superlatively important. I am still undecided when an elderly couple enter the waiting room. I see them eyeing the magazine selection greedily and politely leave them with ‘Now!’
‘I will not stand it,’ the old lady shouted suddenly into the silent waiting room. She stood up, pushing her walking aid in front of her. (I looked around the waiting room to see if anyone else was enjoying the irony as much as me. A small boy glared at me). The old lady’s husband mumbled something incoherently. I flung ‘Country Life’ aside. She was halfway across the waiting room when she was stopped by another patient. ‘Is that good?’ he asked. I held my breath. Then I noticed he was gesturing to her walking aid. I stopped holding my breath. (As a child I spent many a school bus journey practicing holding my breath. I’m still not very good. I probably would have practiced harder if I’d known how many shocking things I would see as a grown-up). The old lady turned on him. ‘This?’ she said dismissively, as if she’d only just noticed the walking aid in front of her. ‘Oh yes, it’s very good. Want to try it?’ The other patient stood up excitedly. The two of them spent the next 10 minutes swapping turns on the walking aid, commenting on the experience at ear-bellowing levels. ‘IT’S VERY LIGHT.’ ‘I WILL ASK THE DOCTOR FOR ONE.’ ‘YOU MUST STAND CLOSER TO IT.’ The pair of them strode into the corridor, where the doctor fell over them. It was with some reluctance that I went in to see my doctor, and I spent most of my appointment giving a well-rounded assessment of the walking aid demonstration I had just seen. (I think the doctor was still cross about his altercation with it, because he was very reluctant to let me have one). ‘I can’t believe I thought waiting rooms were boring,’ I told the receptionist as I left. ‘I’ll be back tomorrow.’