‘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.
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…