I'm all for paying the doctor a pound a visit. In fact, as a hypochondriac with a conscience, I'd be happier paying rather more for guilt-free visits, but then my GP has the added incentive of combining the sympathetic manner of George Clooney with the foppish charm of Hugh Grant. The only thing I'm not so sure about is his literary taste - he once confided that his favourite bedtime reading was The Daily Telegraph Book of Obituaries: such an enthusiasm for death seemed to me to be inappropriate in a man of his profession.
Having run out of symptoms of my own to discuss, I took my son to see him last week - a somewhat humiliating expedition as he sat there in cynical teenage mode, quietly sniggering to himself. And all because, as Dr Gorgeous withdrew my son's lengthy medical history, I had said - as one does - "What a bulging packet, darling". At this tender stage of his development, a word like "bulging" is replete with innuendo; only the words "do it" in a sentence can be guaranteed to cause more nudging and suppressed hilarity. I well remember this painful phase - my speed-reading technique was perfected at school when I used to scan the text ahead to calculate whether the impossible task of reading out loud the paragraph containing the word "intercourse" would fall to me. Of course Dickens these days holds no such booby (whoops) traps: nobody under the age of 30 has heard of the quaint expression "sexual intercourse".
In the current Blairite orgy of goodness and niceness, the announcement from my local council that only polite people will get their rubbish cleared seems completely sane. The Liberal Democrat council has awarded the contract to wake everybody up at five o'clock in the morning to a new company and the changeover has resulted in a few "teething problems"; some people's rubbish has been sitting outside their houses for five weeks. But this is no excuse, says our council leader, for bad manners; people who have been rude or abusive to the council in their complaints will have to wait even longer. We, in our road, have had no problems at all so I presume one of our polite neighbours said "please, pretty please".
The same technique, however, does not seem to be working in the neighbourhood's campaign to stop a cattery being opened in the street. A couple of years ago, a titled lady died and left her house and rambling garden to cats. Someone in the planning department obviously has a soft spot for moggies as signs are that permission to convert the house to a cattery will be given. Petitions are flying around the road, while a local barrister is spearheading the protest campaign so it is at the risk of being lynched that I refuse to sign the petition. I think the whole thing is wonderfully eccentric, and if councils are going to start letting projects like this through, it might be an indication that they are showing some signs of aesthetic discrimination and will stop giving permission to pitch-roofed supermarkets and all those hideous red-brick housing developments that are defacing the riverside. So there.Reuse content