Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: I'd prefer to duck a visit to the quack

Tuesday: GP appointments make me ill

One reads about doctors' doubts concerning the various health services of Britannia, not least a claim by some that they try to avoid going to the doctor's themselves.

You can see where they're coming from: the doctor's. You can be over-cured or get tests and treatments that'll only worry you or even cause you harm.

The phenomenon of the so-called "worried well" is well-attested, largely because it includes everyone not actually ill.

But medical treatment at GP level comes down to the character and knowledge of your doc. Like most people, I've had mixed luck, largely because docs are a mixed bag.

I've had inspirational ones, good communicators who put things in perspective and even have a laugh. Then there was Dr Death, who thought everything was potentially cancer, and would send you for a scan if you complained about a cut finger.

Mostly, I get trainees, because I haven't affiliated myself to any particular medic at my nearest practice.

Trainees, too, vary in their suitability for the work. Some are enthusiastic and bang up to date with the latest knowledge. Some are just posh kids who like the status but not the work.

The last one I saw was one of these. She saw me for four minutes and said my knee pain was incipient arthritis.

She offered no advice and was clearly keen to get away to see a World Cup footer match starting shortly.

Later, I paid a trusted private physio to have a proper look.

She said I didn't have the least sign of arthritis and, indeed, the pain soon disappeared. But it's the whole experience of going to the doc's that disconcerts.

I like the big old wainscot-lined house that serves as my local surgery but, oh, the awful stress of the waiting room, with its dreadful magazines full of adverts for unaffordable watches. The silence is deafening, which makes me want to gulp loudly, the avoidance of which becomes a titanic struggle, which turns my face blue and causes me nearly to faint clean away.

The other problem is that, at any given time, you'll probably have a few nagging complaints. Which to mention? In which order? Should I just stick to the one?

Visit your doc by all means, if you think something might be wrong. But be prepared for the visit to raise your blood pressure and make you ill.

Monday: A right miserable start to the week

Following my exclusive wittering recently about the different, daft days of the week comes revelations about ‘Blue Monday’.

It’s the most miserable day of the year, apparently, with post-Xmas credit card bills kicking in and the general Januaryness bringing us down.

It was a sad day for me, right enough, leaving the Isle of Skye and swapping a world of otters and herons for madhouse cityscapes of cyclists and joggers.

On the drive down, I’d to stop the car three times as hungry deer came down off the snow-covered mountains and wandered onto the road through Glen Shiel.

I thought of moving for good, in particular to a house near the tiny village of Elgol. Back home, I find the Picture of the Day in a national publication is… the shore at Elgol.

It’s a sign! Yup, a sign to screw the nut and forget about Dreamy Days.

Wednesday: Keep an eye out for ball

Where’s the ball? I refer to the glittering orb under which couples used to dance at Belfast’s old Floral Hall.

Campaigners trying to save the one-time popular venue believe it is nothing without the ball, which was unscrewed from the ceiling 23 years ago and, after a short career in musicals, disappeared.

In general, this column does not approve of glitter balls. Their suggestion of decadence and luxury encourages louche behaviour and, in some instances, marriage.

However, we do approve of history, and for that reason we urge all readers to keep an eye out for the ball.

Friday: Short-sighted Google makes spectacle of itself

After all the hoopla about Google specs, they haven’t caught on and the company is taking no more orders for its “Glass”.

The cyborg-style accoutrements let wearers take photos, summon information and read emails on a small screen above their right eye.

But complaints about privacy intrusion, low battery life and looking daft led to a backlash against the much hyped accessory. At one point, leading entertainers such as Madonna, Jennifer Lawrence and Prince Charles were seen mincing around in Google Glass.

No more. Google isn’t giving up and says it’ll come up with something better. Something better, my eye.

Saturday: You're sprout of order!!

The sinister campaign to make us eat Brussels sprouts never seems to end.

British experts spent 15 years cross-breeding the controversial brassica with kale and have disguised it under the name “kalettes”.

You could cross-breed it with oven chips for all I care. You can keep your kalettes.

Sunday: The hidden history of Harold

Shock news as it’s revealed that Her Majesty, a queen, and Prime Minister Harold Wilson (wait for it; roll dramatic drums and sound a parp upon a kazoo)… played hide-and-seek together.

That’s mental. The elected Prime Minister and the ruler of the land capered about, hiding behind furniture and so forth? Reports suggest Wilson’s wife Mary was also involved.

The controversial incident occurred in 1967, during a visit to Balmoral by the pipe-smoking PM.

Afterwards, the Queen wrote: “Dear Prime Minister, I do hope you have both recovered from your exertions last evening.”

Today, we’d assume she was alluding to something rude. But these were more innocent times, emphasised more by a politically incorrect aside in which Her Magnificence says persons of colour would have a “positive advantage” in the game.

The 1960s was a period of joy and experimentation. But, clearly, the Queen took things too far.

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