Thursday, 26 August 2010

Red Hot In A Cold Summer

I once walked down the street with a friend who is a psychiatrist at a major city hospital. Every corner we turned, he would suddenly bow his head, stare longer at the pavement than is usual and say in a hushed voice: "Know him - he's one of my customers". There were so many "know hims" and "know hers" that it appeared as if a large percentage of the city were under psychiatric supervision.

The impressive quality was that he managed to dodge any form of conversation.

It's different up North. You just cannot avoid people. They block the thoroughfare and won't let you past. A GP friend once told me that it was so bad that their family shopped out of the area. It avoided the dreaded and familiar phrase: "Doctor, could I just have a quick word in your ear and.............?"

No such escape for a bus driver. I was cornered by a strident local who had recently been on a club outing.

"I want a word with you. The old bus was awful"

"What bus?" I asked, feeling as if the joyous memories of France and Switzerland were being forced firmly into the background.

"The heating pipes under the seats were red hot. They wouldn't turn off. All the old folk nearly passed out. We had to move them all to the back."

I resisted the temptation of being controversial by saying how lucky they must have been to have some heat in a ridiculously cold August.

Instead I went safe and changed the topic to talking about the weather.

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