I have a marvellous relationship with my doctor. This is because I first met him almost thirty years ago in a hotel bar. It was lunchtime and he had the look of a man who’d taken a whack in the cockles and had been drinking for some time.
Thinking that we may have something in common, I sat next to him.
He was muttering to himself. I slid my bar stool a little closer to hear what he was saying: “Fucking woman. Thankless bitch.”
I’d heard enough. We definitely had something in common. I moved my stool closer still.
For the first time, he realised I was there. He turned to me and said, “My wife’s left me. She’s taken everything. And do you know what? She’s left me for a fucking lesbian boarding kennel owner who lives eight miles down the road. It seems she would rather have a life of fanny and dog shit than be with me.”
I’m rarely lost for words, but the fanny and dog shit part left me searching for something to say.
“And she’s taken the daughters with her.”
On hearing this last bit, I said, “well, it’s not all bad then.”
Ignoring me, he continued, “from now on I’ll be known as the doctor who was married to a rug ruffler and raised two snatch sniffers.”
“Do you want a drink?” I offered.
“Yeah, if they’ve got any left.”
I looked at him. “How long have you been here?”
“Three and a half weeks.”
By this time the barman had moved nearer. I enquiringly raised my eyebrows to the barman. “Yeah, it’s true. The doc’s been here three and a half weeks.” He said. “He booked himself into a room and has been shit-faced ever since. We’ve lost loads of customers, but I find him entertaining and I couldn’t give a toss if I serve one person or a hundred, I still get paid the same.”
Fair play, I thought.
“When was the last time you had anything to eat?” I asked the doctor.
“Three and a half weeks ago.”
Again, I looked at the barman: “Yeah, it’s true. Every calorie he’s consumed in the last three and a half weeks has come from the Bordeaux region.”
“My God, man,” I told the doctor, “you have my respect and admiration. That’s an incredible feat! No solids for over three weeks? Outstanding! Barman, get the doc’ another drink.”
“However, in order to maintain a clear conscience, I feel obliged to suggest that eating bugger all for three and a half weeks is not very good for one’s body and, indeed, not likely to increase one’s life expectancy.”
Doc’ put his drink on the bar, got off his bar stool and punched me in the face. “Really? Well, they never told me that in all the five years I spent at medical school!”
A month later, I was in hospital for a check-up to see how the broken nose and sunken cheekbone were getting on…and into the cubicle walked my mate, the doc’.
I gave him a rabbit punch on his snout and didn’t argue one bit when the nurses threw me out.
Just two weeks later, I was forced to visit my local doctors’ surgery with a dose of tonsillitis…and there sat the doc’ again.
He looked at me, “Oh God,” he uttered, still displaying the remnants of black eyes, “you’re not going to hit me again, are you?”
“You can fuck off. You hit me first.”
“I know, I know, but I was drunk and depressed. You were sober and had no excuse.”
“Oh, I see, you were drunk and depressed and that gives you an excuse for lumping me, does it? I’ve been drunk and depressed for twenty years, for God’s sake! You’re lucky; your missus pissed off with a dog-loving dyke. Mine’s still with me!”
Since then, Biffy and I have been good friends (He’s called Biffy because when he’s drunk and wants to tell someone to piss off he tells them to “biff off”).
Thirty years on, he is convinced that discovering why I’m still alive will fund his retirement.
He can actually prove, through pure medical science, that I am dead. Well, that’s not strictly true, because the fact that I still breathe is something of a stumbling block.
My appointment was for 2.30 and I arrived with plenty of time in hand for the battle with the receptionist.
There was one person in front of me, talking to the receptionist, and I waited behind THE line. Shortly, he wandered off to the waiting room.
I was just about to approach the counter, when, without looking up, she sternly said, “not just yet!”
I slid a few inches of my left shoe over the line.
“Behind the line!” She roared.
Eventually, she stopped shuffling papers and looked me up and down. “Approach!”
I marched forward, stood at the counter and began telling the beast my name.
“I know who YOU are. Why are YOU here?”
“I have an appointment.”
“What’s the appointment for?”
“Why don’t you know?”
“Because I didn’t take the call. The wife did. She’s stupid.”
She turned away, walked across the reception office and found my medical records. “Would it be for the rescheduled Alcoholics Anonymous meeting?” She bellowed from the other side of the room.
Never in my life, have I been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
“You!” I shouted at her, “Why is there a bloody line on the floor? There’s a sign here, stating ‘Please stay behind the line for the sake of patient privacy’ and you’ve just asked me, in scream-like fashion, if I’m here for Alcoholics Anonymous! How fucking anonymous is that?”
Biffy poked his head round the door and said, “you can come through now, sir.”
I put my feet up on his desk and looked at Biffy, “from which part of the Underworld did you get that bitch? Was she dragged from the depths of the Styx?”
“How’s it going eez?”
“I’m alright, Biffy. How did she know who I am? I’ve never seen her before.”
“You wouldn’t have. She’s only been here a few weeks.”
“So, how did she know?”
“eez, mate, you’re, well, how shall I put this? Look, you’ve been using this surgery for nearly thirty years and in that time you’ve been responsible for the resignation of virtually every receptionist. You have a reputation.”
“Cheers for that, Biffy, ”I said, giving him a nod of appreciation, “but that doesn’t explain how she knew who I was.”
“All new staff go through an induction course. Your section is between ‘What To Do If There’s A Fire’ and ‘What To Do If Someone’s Choking’.”
“Hey, really? Nifty. What’s my section called?”
“’What To Do If Eez Has An Appointment’.”
“Anyway, eez, I’ve got the results of you latest tests.”
“Biffy, are you going to give me a bollocking?”
“There’d be no point…Anyway, you have a cholesterol reading of thirty seven, your gamma GT and triglyceride readings are so high I asked the lab’ to triple check them, a space shuttle could be launched on the pressure in your veins and your blood/sugar levels put Tate & Lyle to shame.”
“Okay,” I said.
“No, eez, it’s not ‘okay’. Were it not for the fact that you’re sitting in front of me, I’d look at these figures and bet everything I own on your being dead,” he paused for a moment, “but if I could just find out how you’re still alive, I could write a book and would never again have to shove my finger up middle aged men’s backsides in order to earn a living.”
“So, I’m definitely alive. It’s good news, then. That’s all I needed to know. You still up for poker tomorrow evening?”
“Which reminds me, I’ve got to check your prostate gland.”
“Biffy, you are not shoving your digit up my butt. I don’t know where it’s been. There must be God knows how many germs flying about this building.”
“eez, with no pun intended, I think you’ll admit that I’ve got the shitty end of the stick with this one. Now, drop ‘em.”
It didn’t take long.
“Right, Biffy, I’ve been read the riot act and endured rectal violation. Now what?”
He looked at his watch, “well, you’ve been allotted ten minutes for this appointment, which leaves us with four minutes.”
He stood up and went to the door, “I’m off for a quick piss. The whisky’s still in its usual place and the glasses are in the second drawer down.”