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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Saturday, April 08, 2006

"Let's talk about life!!"

In the halcyon days of Lady Bracknell's youth, a doctor's waiting room consisted of the rear reception room in what had once been a semi-detached house. The walls were unadorned. A motley collection of wooden chairs from old dining suites was arranged in formal rows to accommodate the patients. Patients who, if they talked at all, did so in low voices.

Crucially, it had never occurred to anybody that the tedium of waiting to see the doctor would need to be alleviated by means of piped lift music or - even worse - a television playing a looped recording of something calling itself, "The Life Channel".

Readers who are fortunate enough not to have regular occasion to visit their general practioner may be blessedly unfamiliar with this atrocity, and may therefore be in need of further explanation.

The Life Channel cobbles together (in a distinctly amateur fashion, somewhat reminiscent of the cinema advertisements for Indian restaurants which were so prevalent in the 1970s) a variety of short films intended to convey crucial information about health matters. The information contained in these films is so basic, however, that Lady Bracknell really cannot conceive that any of it could come as a revelation to any individual who has access either to newspapers or the television.

Actors in white coats gaze sincerely into the camera lens, and enumerate the benefits of drinking more water. It can be used, apparently, in treating obesity when drunk as an alternative to non-diet fizzy drinks. (Although it is beyond Lady Bracknell's conception that anyone could not be aware that such drinks contain vast quantities of sugar. Six teaspoons in the standard 330 ml can, in fact.)

Another in this series of films concentrates on a fitness club for senior citizens in Luton, of all places. A phone number and web address are provided, presumably so that any fit and elderly residents of south Liverpool who like what they see can immediately make plans to move to Luton and take advantage of the club's friendly atmosphere and table tennis equipment.

Moving on to the modern insistence that we must all eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day (the untimely death at the age of 98 of Lady Bracknell's much-loved paternal grandmother can undoubtedly be blamed on the fact that she never allowed any vegetable other than a potato to pass her lips), we are subjected to two unconscionably smug teenaged girls who are engaged in producing a vegetable stir fry. "We're putting the courgettes in first", they simper, "because they take the longest to cook".

(Lady Bracknell, unlike her grandmother, has never met a vegetable she didn't like. Nevertheless, she would draw the line at partaking in a "vegetable stir fry" in which the courgettes were added to the pan first, and the onions were thrown in at the last moment.)

Most mysterious of all is the film which advocates the taking of mud baths as a healthy inducement to the vital function of sweating. "Nowadays", coos the sultry female voiceover, "many of us don't sweat as much as we ought to". Given the sub-tropical temperature of the average public building, Lady Bracknell finds this hard to believe.

All these educational and informative snippets are frequently interspersed - at a considerably greater volume - by an advertisement for releasing the equity in one's home so that one can "see the grandkids right". Although quite how frittering away the value of one's largest single investment on holidays is calculated to increase the financial legacy one will eventually leave to one's "grandkids" is never explained.

Perhaps the purpose of this drivel is to persuade those who are forced to endure it never to be ill again. Or, if they really cannot help but be ill, at least to think twice before bothering their doctor. Certainly, given the choice, Lady Bracknell would never voluntarily sit through it again. Unfortunately, given that she must have her annual diabetic retinopathy screening on Wednesday, she must steel herself for further repetitions.

And it is not solely the intrusion of televisions which frays Lady Bracknell's nerves when she is waiting to see the doctor. Why is it that, in every surgery which she has ever frequented, the children's play area is stocked with appallingly noisy playthings?

Will any of Lady Bracknell's readers join her in her one-aristocrat campaign to ditch the Duplo in favour of the heavenly silence of Fuzzy Felt?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh M'Lady!! I cannot comment in any profound way. I last visited the doctor in 19994, with something akin to bird flu. Even the doctor said he knew not what was wrong. How comforting. Thankfully I survived with two paracetamol. :)

9:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris Mac wrote the above:(

9:56 pm  
Blogger Sally said...

Dear Lady Bracknell

It has been my pleasure to make your acquaintance today and I thank most sincerely the lady Goldfish for mentioning you.

Perhaps we are both of that certain age that remembers ... Ah, Fuzzy Felt, an important part of my childhood, that soothed my anxieties, ordered my brain, and deflected my parents' interventions.

I congratulate you on your choice of spectacle frames, but am concerned at your prescription difficulties with walls and curbs - mine are overcome by wearing different spectacles for each task - though you may find my solution does not suit your particular needs.

I wear my rimless purple for driving and watching the hounds, my grey half frames for keyboards, the new half frames with middle distance for tea parties, the new identical half frames with long distance for musical soirees, the old tortoiseshell middle distance for reading the newspapers and other periodicals, and the old tortoiseshell very near prescription, for reading in bed with books propped up on my chest. I did request my Optician (middling age, pleasant but nothing remarkable, whereas the Doctor of Osteopathy, well my heart flutters..) ... to find a solution limited to one pair but my Meniere's condition limits the messages from eyes to brain, so I plod on.

I have only recently joined this community of bloggers and invite you and any other persons of distinction, humour, erudition, inventiveness and charm, to visit me.

Sally's Life at DisShireSW

6:33 pm  
Blogger Katie said...

Your ladyship, In my experience I have not trusted the doctors as they I worry about what they tell me and they can sometimes be a little over the top with their diagnosis of my conditions. So I have survived by tablets alone.

Ah! Thanks your ladyship for bringing back some memories of my childhood as I too had enjoyment from playing with Fuzzy Felt and was delighted with the pictures I drew with it.

However, Another memory of a toy that I had may delight your ladyship.

I had a toy that helped me to improve my maths and was a noisy but effective way of it doing some good to help my math skills and was called Speak and Maths.

The toy was an electronic compter that you could hold and gave you lots of activities within it to help yout math skills.

One of the activities was called Number Stumper in which you had to guess a row of four numbers like a Hangman type thing. YOur ladyship will be interested to know that I couldn't work this out and took delight in cursing to myself whenever the toy said "Number right, Number in wrong place" and sometimes "Number right, Number in wrong place" which maent you had to guess it further, but alas the thing drove me to distraction!!!!!


3:36 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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And don’t forget to ask about this week’s special offer; a free hair transplant with every breast enlargement. Open late 7 days a week. Only 5 minutes from this surgery"
[Pause. Cue husky feminine contralto]
"An hour from now you'll wish you'd had one."

3:23 pm  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

My own practitioners' waiting-room is strictly low-tech, adorned only with posters illustrating headlice, measles jabs, and Fifty Ways Not To Waste The Doctor's Time Which Is Much More Important Than Yours, Natch.

However my vet has a splendid TV display, all about the internal parasites available to dogs and cats. In full colour and animation. Just the ticket before lunch.

3:43 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Mr Dawson has reminded Lady Bracknell that the walls of her own GP's surgery are adorned with little notices asking whether those present realise how much of doctor's time is wasted by patients not turning up for their appointments.

Lady Bracknell has long wondered - given that those present can be confidently assumed not to have missed their appointments - whether this is really the best way to target the miscreants in question...

7:10 pm  

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