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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

I've had a relapse, but don't panic! It's a fierce cough and cold that's come back again. Personally, I think it's the Devil who lurks in bottles of Scotch who's trying to tempt me into the cure I would at one time have unhesitatingly embraced.

My drink of choice is now Lemsip with which I wash down some multi-coloured capsules provided by the National Health Service. My doctor took one look at me and started scribbling on that extension to her left hand, the prescription pad.

I said to her: "I've just been reading a sign in your tiny waiting room that says antibiotics are no use for colds or flu."

"What's more, there are some strange patients out there waiting to see you and I feel as though I've been crammed into a matchbox with Salvador Dali's mind."

She just smiled pityingly at me and asked if I was allergic to penicillin, which I remember was the very first antibiotic, discovered by Alexander Fleming when he left a saucer of milk to go off. Actually, my English teacher at school said that before the last war his grandmother kept a lump of mouldy cheese to rub on his wounds when he fell off his orange-box go-cart, so she discovered it really and should have patented it.

Then she asked: "What did you do over Christmas and New Year?"

Do you think that was an innocent question?

I said: "Friends, relatives, eating, drinking copious quantities of tea, cutting up a giant Stilton cheese, that sort of thing."

"Hmmm," she said. "Just come with me to see the nurse and then you can have your prescription."

Then she started acting like a manic jail warder, as though she thought I was going to scarper.

"He's been a drinker," she said to the nurse, "and I want three lots of his blood."

I'm to see her in ten days and I've been wondering if this is the extent of a very senior NHS doctor's knowledge of drink problems? That they might have caught a cold from having a snifter on New Year's Eve?

As it happens I think it was more to do with the fact that I'd been missing appointments at the diabetic clinic. I couldn't figure out why, because I'm good at pinning medical appointment cards to a notice board where I can't miss seeing them. So I had a look at the card. In big letters, it said something like "Get Your Eyes Tested" and the name of my local optician. Closer examination revealed that the doctor's appointment was in little letters above and the name and address of the surgery was on the back.

Is this how the NHS is really falling apart, by selling out integrity for advertising profit? There are, after all, at least three other opticians within a mile of the advertised one.

And yet I bet my GP approves of public service broadcasting, with no adverts on the BBC.

I once ran out of some prescription-only ulcer pills in Ibiza and was easily able to buy Spanish copies of the drug at a chemist in San Antonio. I noticed they charged the same price as a prescription would have cost in the UK, but in a confusing number of Pesetas and I can't wait for us to get the Euro because it will show up this profiteering. I can't believe San José has got all Euroed-up before London.

If we could match the Euro to the Dollar we could have one world currency and Lemsips would cost the same wherever you are, which is a lot less than a bottle of Scotch.

Anyway I'd like to wish happy New Year to my reader, so you can all take it personally.

Sinclair Newton