Short Story – Doctor, Doctor, Please

Doctor image www.dreamstime.com

Picture courtesy of http://www.dreamstime.com

‘Come in, come in. Please, take a seat.’

‘Thank you, Doctor. So, what’s the verdict?’

‘Good news, Mr Average. I’m delighted to say you have a clean bill of health. All that remains of this year’s medical is a teeny weeny questionnaire.’

Opening a file on his computer, the doctor clicked on page one of 325 and read out the first question.

‘OK, Mr Average, do you laugh?’

‘Er, yes, Doctor, but only on special occasions…’

The doctor fixed Mr Average with a penetrating gaze.

‘Oh, alright then. I do enjoy a good laugh.’

‘How many per week?’

‘Um, seven or eight, I’d say,’ replied Mr Average, crossing his fingers behind his back.

‘We need to cut that number in half,’ murmured the doctor. ‘You are aware of the Government guidelines, are you not, Mr Average? Five chuckles a week. Chuckles, that is, not belly-laughs. So, do you laugh every day, or save your – ahem – seven or eight for the weekend?’

‘Oh, I save them. You can’t beat a few laughs on a Saturday night.’

The doctor drew in a deep breath and jotted binge laugher on the notepad in front of him before scrolling down to question two.

‘When was the last time you enjoyed a good view?’

‘Never, Doctor. I don’t enjoy views. I know the risks…’

‘I see from my notes you regularly walk in the Peak District.’

‘I swear, Doctor, I keep my eyes closed the whole time.’

‘Did you ever enjoy views?’

‘I dabbled in my teens,’ replied Mr Average, hanging his head in shame. ‘But I gave up over twenty years ago, and haven’t so much as glanced at a view since.’

‘Excellent. The Nanny State’s strict controls on view enjoying are there for a reason – they’re highly addictive. Here, have a leaflet.’

The doctor dropped a hefty tome on Mr Average’s lap.

‘Sport,’ he said, glancing at question three. ‘Do you practise sport?’

‘Yes,’ replied Mr Average, ‘I play football a couple of times a week.’

‘And do you hate every minute?’

‘Absolutely,’ lied Mr Average, who was actually quite partial to a game of football.

‘I hope you’re telling me the truth, Mr Average. I see evidence of people enjoying sport everywhere I turn, especially at the weekend. Good for nothing low-lives having fun, cluttering up open spaces which are supposed to be empty. Do you realise, some talk about sport, and some,’ the doctor lowered his voice conspiratorially, ‘even watch it.’

‘Surely not!’ said Mr Average, tucking his newly-purchased ticket for the rugby the following Saturday deeper into his pocket.

Shuddering, the doctor moved on to question four.

‘Music.’

Mr Average blanched.

‘Ah, I see that’s struck a chord, Mr Average,’ said the doctor, regarding his patient through narrowed eyes.

‘Music, struck a chord, that’s a good one,’ said Mr Average, just catching himself before he smiled.

The doctor was furious.

‘Are you accusing me of making a joke? Joking is a filthy habit. Filthy!’

‘Sorry, Doctor, no offence meant. I didn’t think.’

‘Well, that’s something, I suppose. There’s far too much thinking going in in this hedonistic world. Now,’ he continued, steepling his fingers under his chin, ‘music. Why did that make you react so?’

Mr Average looked at his shoes.

‘Come now, Mr Average. Trust me, I’m a doctor.’

‘I sang a song last week,’ replied Mr Average in a small voice. The doctor sat up straight, startled. He hadn’t been expecting that.

‘And it gets worse…’

‘How can it possibly get worse than singing a song?’

‘It was on the radio,’ whispered Mr Average.

‘The radio? You were listening to the radio? Oh, hold on, don’t tell me – you were…singing along.’

‘And tapping my feet.’

The doctor leant back in his chair, disgusted.

‘I hardly dare ask, but what was the song called?’

Mr Average shook his head, tears in his eyes.

‘Tell me!’ roared the doctor.

‘“Papa Don’t Preach”.’

For a moment, Mr Average was worried the doctor was going to collapse. Gasping for breath, one hand clutching his throat, he stood unsteadily and towered over Mr Average, glowering down at his patient.

‘You sang and tapped your feet to a popular song. A popular song! Get out, and never return. I don’t have the time for a hopeless addict like you.’

Mr Average leapt out of his chair and hurried from the room, the doctor’s contempt following him all the way home.

*****

That evening, the doctor returned to the house he hated and refused to kiss his wife, satisfied that they made each other respectably unhappy.

‘Turn on the television,’ he said, throwing caution to the wind. As her eyebrows shot up in surprise, he added, ‘It’s these wretched patients of mine. They’re driving me to sitcoms.’

Not wanting to bear witness to her husband’s demise, the doctor’s wife made for the kitchen, intending to force herself to eat a portion of the inedible offal stew she’d made earlier. However, as the signature tune of ’Allo ’Allo burst from the television’s speakers, she was unable to resist a parting shot.

‘You’re a doctor, you imbecile,’ she hissed. ‘You know what watching light entertainment will lead to.’

The doctor’s wife was gratified to see an expression of dawning horror on her husband’s face.

‘Yes,’ she concluded smugly, ‘reality TV!’

*****

There could only be one song to follow this little swipe at the nanny state – the great UFO with ‘Doctor Doctor’. Feel free to sing along, and even tap your feet if you like. I won’t tell…

We Could Be Heroes

DavidBowie www.beigeUK.com

Picture courtesy of http://www.beigeUK.com

This is not the blog post I intended for today. A tribute isn’t something I would normally write. I’m not a dedicated follower of celebrity, not the sort of person who lays flowers and weeps and wails over the passing of footballers’ wives and reality TV stars, but I didn’t feel I could let the death of a true genius go by unmentioned.

I am referring, of course, to the news that David Bowie has passed away. Talk about the day the music died! David has provided a soundtrack to every decade of my life (and there’ve been a few), so I’m a little bit shocked to learn he will do so no more. I’m not grieving – I’m not crass enough to believe that how I feel can compare in any way to the feelings of David’s family and friends, but I do have a sense of loss. The last time I felt this way was when the world of comedy was shocked by the early death of the late great Rik Mayall, and like Rik, David Bowie was one of my heroes. I think we all need heroes.

So, Mr David Bowie, there’s no ‘could’ about it. You were. And not just for one day.

*****

Fellow authors, please join me next Monday for the first of my ‘Writing Tips’ series. This isn’t an idle promise, like the Christmas Eve love story which took a fatal tumble at the editing stage (hangs head in shame); this time the post is already written, edited and ready to go.

Alison’s Advent Calendar Day Three – Music.

I read a lot of blogs by fellow writers about the role of music in their lives, and most say that music plays a major part in influencing their work. Music certainly does that for me.

How can that be? Surely I don’t listen to music while I’m writing? Well, I have been known to have my iPod on while I’m working – usually when the other half has the telly on and I’m attempting to drown out the irritating adverts. Music doesn’t distract me like endless offers from PPI experts or legalised loan sharks do, but it doesn’t help me while I’m writing either. The inspirational side of music kicks in when I’m away from the computer.

It’s fair to say I don’t suffer from writers’ block (I’d better go and touch some wood, quickly!). In fact, it would be fair to say I sometimes wish my imagination would shut up and let me sleep. However, I do get to the stage after a few hours at the computer where my eyes have white dots in front of them, and my brain turns to mush – and as a result my work turns to mush too. It’s at times like these I recall the words of Monty Python – ‘And now for something completely different.’ For me, the ‘something completely different’ might be ironing, or cleaning, or a stroll to the supermarket (man, I know how to live!), and I always have my iPod on.

Music never fails to lift me up, and my raised spirits kick my imagination back into gear. As I’m ironing, or cleaning, or walking, ideas for various storylines flood my mind, all to a soundtrack of my favourite tunes. I imagine scenarios, often involving me being far more cool than I am in real life, which play out to whatever track I’m listening to at the time. If the scenario is particularly satisfying I’ve been known to play the same song over and over again,  all the way from home to town two miles away. I probably look a bit batty, skipping along the riverside path, grinning and chuntering to myself, but I really don’t care. In between the daydreams about top film directors falling over themselves to turn Dory’s Avengers into a blockbuster, and my acceptance speech as I pick up an ‘Amazing Screenplay’ Oscar for said blockbuster, some of my most creative storylines have come as a result of my passion for music. I can’t write music, but I can write to music.

Here’s one of my favourite tunes: a festive song I find extremely evocative. It’s the lovely Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders with ‘2,000 Miles’.

The children are singing; it must be Christmas time…

Cue goosebumps.

***

Advent Calendar 004

Today’s advent calendar picture: a little bunny in the snow looking up at a star. Ahh!

The Countdown Escalates

22 August 2013

Regular visitors to ‘An Author’s View’ may have noticed that no author interview has appeared this week. The interviews will return in September as there are plenty more fabulous authors happy to share their stories with us, but for now I would like to dedicate ‘An Authors View’ solely to my very soon to be published début novel, DORY’S AVENGERS.

One week today Dory’s will be officially published and my lifelong dream will have come true. I’ve always enjoyed storytelling, and I’ve always loved books. Now the two have come together, and it goes without saying that I’m excited. I’m also nervous; the butterflies have been churning away in my stomach for a couple of weeks now, but that’s all part of the thrill. At the forthcoming Book WaterstonesLaunch in the Cambridge branch of Waterstones on 29 August I’ll be signing copies of my beautiful book, making a speech, reading from DORY’S AVENGERS…

Yes, I’ll be the centre of attention. Bring it on! I can’t wait.

Whatever happens after the book launch will be a huge adventure as I continue my steep learning curve. Thanks to fellow authors, who have been unfailingly supportive of my writing, I know a lot of hard work awaits me as I continue to keep the interest in DORY’S AVENGERS alive with promotional events, more book signings, and, of course, my twin loves of blogging and networking. Somewhere along the way I would like to continue writing ‘New Book’, as well as acquiring a good reputation as an editor. I need to keep the wolf from the door somehow, and believe me, he’s sharpening his teeth even as I type! I’m looking forward to it, with a little bit of trepidation. No one ever ventured into the unknown without a few nerves, but I’ll be working for something about which I am passionate: my writing. To have been given the opportunity to follow my passion is a wonderful gift, a gift for which I will be eternally grateful.

The future certainly looks very exciting, and it will all kick off in a week’s time. As the countdown escalates I have decided to shamelessly copy an idea from Nicky Wells: blogger extraordinaire, author of the fabulous SOPHIE’S TURN, SOPHIE’S RUN and soon to be published SOPHIE’S ENCORE, and supportive friend. Like me, Nicky is a music fan, and every Monday she adds some music to her blog. Music has always been a source of inspiration for me, so for the next seven days I will share a song each day as a soundtrack for DORY’S AVENGERS.

I hope you will enjoy Dory’s Music, and the accompanying blogs.