The doctor stares at his screen in some bafflement. “Have you any idea what to press?” he asks.

I do not. Neither does the baby. “I’ll get my secretary,” he mutters.

I am impressed by this. I had no idea doctors had secretaries. A lady materialises and clicks a few links.

“Good oh. Right. Yes – I remember this bit. Now. Prepare yourself for patient choice. Would you like a hospital: down the road in King’s Lynn; over in Peterborough; down in Suffolk – Bury St Edmonds; or a nice trip to Norwich?”

He pauses. “It wasn’t really designed for areas like this, was it?”

“I think I’ll have… down the road in King’s Lynn,” I informedly choose.

“No no no,” he scolds. The next thing you say is: ‘which one would you recommend, doctor?’ That’s what everybody says.”

“Ah. Which one would you recommend?”

“Down the road in King’s Lynn, of course. You’d have to be bloody mad to go to any of the others.”


The secretary does some more IT work. Truly she is earning her salary. A extensive list of an appointment date appears.

“One appointment available all year. October. That’s nonsense. I’ll ring them up – they’ll be able to see you next week.”

This seems a far happier arrangement for all concerned. “I haven’t actually got my diary with me though,” I confess.

The doctor raises his eyebrows. “Like you have much to do during the day.”

I resolve to report him to the General Medical Council for his insolence. The secretary arranges an appointment. We leave the surgery to buy fish.