`I knew a lot of medics in London. I went out with quite a few. You guys certainly know how to have a good time, don't you?'

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Sticky Moments in the Surgery, No 643

Friend or Flirt?

"So what can I do for you today, Miss Jenkins?"



"Well, I've just moved to the area and I've heard a lot about this practice - well, you in particular - so I though I'd come and check you out, to see if we connect."

"Right. Um, do you mind if I just open the window?"

"Not at all."

"Now, are there any particular medical problems you wish to discuss?"

"I do need some contraceptive advice."

"I see."

"And I could do with a medical MOT - I haven't had one of those for ages."

"Yes. Can I just ask what brings you to Bristol?"

"My job. I'm a design consultant for Tank Tops R Us. It sounds a bit naff but it's actually quite stimulating. I'm in charge of the creative use of floor space and all the window displays."

"How fascinating."

"Yes, isn't it? The problem is the people I'm working with. They're so boring and shallow. It sounds a bit snobby but I'm used to mixing with other professionals - architects, designers, lawyers, doctors ... "


"Oh yes, I knew a lot of medics in London. I went out with quite a few. You guys certainly know how to have a good time, don't you?"

"I think we're veering off the path a bit."

"It's just that I'm so lonely here. I haven't met anyone interesting. Where do professionals go to unwind in Bristol?"

"Um ... Clifton."

"Anywhere in particular?"

"No, just Clifton. The whole place is heaving with professionals unwinding."

"And where to you go to relax?"

"I don't think it would be appropriate to tell you."

"Executive relief, eh?"

"Not at all. As a matter of fact, I'm rather fond of walking my Labrador across the Quantocks."

"Oh, that sounds nice."


"Do you like Italian food? Pasta?"

"Er, yes."

"Because I cook a marvellous spaghetti carbonara."

"So does my wife."

"You're married, are you?"

"Yes. Very happily. For as long as I can remember."

"It's just you're not wearing a ring."

"My son swallowed it. We're waiting for it to pass. In fact, my wife's at home with the sieve as we speak."

"How romantic. Do you think things lose their sparkle after you have childr..."

"Miss Jenkins, listen! I'm a doctor. I'm here to help you with your medical problems. It's not ethical for me to discuss my personal life, and I like to keep it entirely divorced from my professional life."

"So you never socialise with patients?"

"Well, no ... I mean, I have to live on my patch so a lot of the people I socialise with are in fact patients of the practice. But I only see them in large groups."

"I've got four sisters."

"Well, socialise with them, then."

"Look, I'm sorry. You obviously don't want me as a patient."

"I'm happy to have you as a patient."


"Yes. To treat your medical problems, not for a social chat."

"My last GP was very understanding. He said loneliness was a disease that killed thousands of people every year and that it was entirely appropriate for a doctor to just chat rather than reach for the prescription pad."

"Look, I have eight minutes for each patient and I simply don't have time for any length of social discourse. I suggest you buy a copy of Venue magazine and look in the classifieds."

"You flare your nostrils when you assert yourself."

"If there isn't anything else ... "


"What about it?"

"I'm using condoms at the moment but I'm worried that it spoils sensitivity for the man. Do you find that?"

"Have you spoken to our practice nurse? Anything below the navel is Sister Parker's territory."


"Because she's good at it. She's got all the samples and she doesn't blush."

"And my medical MOT?"

"She does that as well. And asthma, diabetes, minor surgery, trivial self-limiting illness, high blood pressure, pregnancy, travel advice, injections, warts, the menopause, weight watching and well-woman clinics. Anything you care to mention - she does the lot."

"So what do you do?"

"Whatever's left. Emergencies and ..."

"Social chat?"

"Er ..."

"I'll make an appointment for the same time next week, shall I?"

"But ..."

"But let's hope we bump into each other in Clifton first".