It’s a glorious Friday morning, midway through the school summer holidays, and I am stretched out on a chair in the Doctor’s surgery next to my injured son. My son is nervous and is reading aloud anything that scrolls across the electronic notice board in the waiting room.
“X-Ray scans must be submitted before 12 noon…” his legs judder nervously up and down like two engine pistons. “There were 346 missed appointments last month…” he looks around like a Meerkat on high alert. “X-ray scans must be submitted before 12 noon.”
“I look at him reassuringly and say, “They really don’t want X-rays after 12, do they?”
“No,” he replies, and laughs the nervous laugh of a child preoccupied with the thoughts of doom associated with a doctor’s appointment.
I try and take his mind of it, “Hey,” I say in a cool dad voice. “Why don’t you go up to the receptionist and tell her that you’ve got some X-rays, but she can’t have them till after 3pm.”
He shakes his head in annoyance, and starts reading out the messages again. “Mrs Thorner to Dr Bartholemew. Room 2.”
“You don’t need to read out all the messages,” I whisper to him. “Just read out the X-ray stuff, not people’s names.” We sit in silence, all we can hear is Ken Bruce on the radio. Rock Me Amadeus, by Falco, chants its way out of the radio
My son starts nervously singing, “Amadeus, Amadeus…Amadeus. Amadeus, Amadeus…Amadeus. Amadeus, Amadeus. Oh, oh, oh Amadeus. Come and rock me Amadeus. Amadeus…”
“Have you heard this before?” I ask him.
“How come you know the words?” He doesn’t laugh.
The doctor is now thirty minutes late for our appointment. We used the touch screen computer to log in and the computer flashed up that we had been ‘acknowledged’. I think thirty minutes is the official length of time you can wait before doubting a computer, so I approach the receptionist to check if the computer knows that we are here.
“Hi. Our appointment was thirty minutes ago. I’m worried the computer doesn’t know we’re here. Does it?”
“Yes,” she replied. “The computer and I both know you are here. We are very busy.” I look around the sparse reception room. There is an old man in one corner reading a leaflet and in the other corner is my son who is murdering, Knights in White Satin, by the Moody Blues.
I glance back at the receptionist. “It’s just with a computer, you never know; you know? I just prefer talking to a human.”
“The Doctor is very busy,” the human snaps back.
I return and decide to calm my son’s nerves by telling him a gruesome medical anecdote which will put his bruised wrist into perspective, “You know, when I was your age…”
“…It’s not another one of your stories is it, Dad? I’ve heard them all before. Please don’t tell me the one about how your first girlfriend dumped you for a dwarf.”
“Ssshhh. I think the preferred term is: Little Person. No, I’m going to tell you a new story, one that will put all this into perspective.”
“When I was your age, I was the subject of the following sentence: ‘Quick! We need to get him to a hospital within the next hour or he may lose the testicle’.”
My son laughs the nervous laugh of a boy having to listen to his dad talking about his testicles and says, “So, what you’re trying to tell me is that she went with the dwarf because he had two testicles?”
Before I get the chance to clarify the testicle anecdote he comforts himself by reading the notice board again, “Repeat prescriptions can only be issued for one month…Brodie Boffin to Dr West. Room 3.” He looks up at me nervously and says, “That’s us, Dad.” He takes my hand, squeezes hard and we both get up. I look down at him and say, “Little Person. The Little Person had two testicles.”