Sunday, 23 November 2008

Perfume and prostates

I went to Lewisham on Thursday to do some Christmas shopping ahead of the weekend crowds. You can tell, can't you, just by the tone of my opening sentence that it didn't go smoothly. You know me so well.

I took my precious progeny to school and ignored his whiny pleas of a "present please mummy or I won't be a good boy today" and silently wished his teacher Mr S good luck. All of the children looked as if they were in a bad mood, already revving up for the fever of Christmas. I parked in the multi-storey, did that thing in the lift (the thing where you engage your fellow lift travellers in friendly conversation and are met with stony stares - or is that just me?) and headed out into the warm shopping centre, clutching my list in my hand.

I've decided to update our Christmas decorations this year - I want one of those trees that Bea always manages to create - beautiful, elegant, classy. That obviously means keeping Mac and David away from it - last year my tree looked like it had been involved in a punch up in a tinsel factory.

Muttering "class" I went into BhS (I know, I know, Bea did suggest I visit Harrods but I only had a few hours) and perused. Much of the decorations that I'd seen in BhS in Surrey Quays were not there - only a mad jumble of half broken things remained. I found some jokey presents for a few people and headed into the Card Factory to get some cards for Mac to send to his friends. I was accosted outside Marks and Spencers by a gentleman from Sky TV who insisted that I join him at his stand and purchase Sky Plus and/or Sky HD. Informing him that I already had both, he didn't seem to believe me. It was only when I started reciting the line up of programmes on Sky One for that evening that he left me alone. Mind you, I was reciting it very loudly.

They didn't have the perfume I wanted in Boots and the mad woman behind the counter offered me an alternative. I ask you: if I've asked for delicate, floral Anais Anais, would I want heavy Marc Jacobs' Daisy? I did get it eventually and reduced in the Perfume Shop. Perfect. I got a few presents in the Perfume Shop, purely because I was leaning quite comfortably on the counter and the man serving reminded me of Enrique. Still, Charlie is always saying she hates buying her own perfume and Matt always needs aftershave.

Then my mobile rang, it was the school. A reedy voice informed me that "Mackenzie has had an accident". My heart stopped and I had visions of a bloodied four year old hooked up to drips and beeping heart monitors. Then I heard him say "Is that my mummy? I want to speak to her." and I melted with relief onto the grubby floor.

He was fine, he'd put his front teeth through his bottom lip but was essentially fine. Still, I broke all speed limits getting back.

I had tantrums from Mac on Friday morning when I dropped him off to school "But I'm in hurt mummy" he wailed, clutching his lip manfully and tantrums from Auntie Ivy when I had the audacity to drop her on the front steps of the hospital while I went off to park the car. I met up with her in the waiting room and she was still chuntering away, drawing in total strangers and telling them her tale of woe. Six pairs of eyes stared at me as I sat down, two women immediately went into a huddle discussing me.

This is the hospital I work in. I'm part of the admin team and for the duration of our visit, we sailed into waiting room after waiting room and received cheery greetings from my colleagues. Auntie Ivy was lapping up the attention, especially when Karen "fitted us in quickly" for her blood test. I felt awful as we sailed past a crammed waiting room and tried to remain anonymous. Auntie Ivy had no such reserve, thanked Karen loudly and said "Oooh, isn't it good that we're getting preferential treatment? All this and the staff discount too!" as she struggled with her coat and bag, Karen and I shushing her loudly.

Oddly enough, one of her tests was an eye test. Drops were dropped in and she had to wait an hour for them to work and then she'd be seen by the registrar. Blinded, she relied on me to entertain her. "Open your eyes, you'll be able to see" I insisted. She refused, telling me that it stung. "I'll go and get you a cup of tea" I offered after twenty minutes of my solo entertainment act. "Oh don't do that, go and get one of your friends to do it" she boomed. Thankfully Denise and Chrissy were both in the back office looking for her records.

Ten minutes later I returned to find Ivy deep in conversation with a new arrival. I sat opposite her and it was only when I heard Ivy rabbitting on to her about Uncle Jim's "prostrate" that I intervened. "Erm, Ivy, here's your tea". She started, swung round to the interloper next to her and said "You're not Joanna!"

The woman agreed that she wasn't and skulked over to another bank of chairs. I then spent ten minutes snorting and giggling into my hands - Ivy had assumed it was me sitting down next to her and started telling me all about my uncle and his waterworks. "Honestly, why didn't she say anything?" Ivy wailed, spilling PG Tips down her front. Denise was hysterical behind the desk and Chrissy kept saying "Oh God, it could only be you, we've been so quiet!"

The upshot of our four hours waiting in waiting areas was that Ivy had an ear infection that had spread. No, I didn't understand it either. Armed with a hospital prescription we went into the Pharmacy and I almost walked straight out again. It was packed to the rafters and only two staff were working. And the information board was informed us all of a "90 minute wait". "You wait here and I'll go and get a coffee, give me your ID" Ivy said, handing everything to me. "Why?" said I, trying to catch the eye of the pharmacist. "So I can get a discount you ninny!" she hooted.
I didn't even begin to explain what she had just said and headed off to the coffee shop where I - and this without any shame whatsoever - bribed a pharmacist who had just started her break to not only finish her break before she'd even started it but to put us ahead of the queue and fill Ivy's prescription. Poor Soroya - anything for a quiet life (really, we admin staff run this hospital, if all the others did but know it - we're like the Mafia) she did so and returned with a jubilant Ivy and was rewarded with a large cappuccino with two shots, one chicken tikka salad baguette, packet of crisps, one apple and a large cherry danish.

It cost more than my Perfume Shop bill but boy was it worth it!


The Dotterel said...

Next time I go to hospital, I want to go with you. (And I'd be a good boy, honest - better than Auntie Ivy, anyway!)

Tara said...

What's this with the christmas tree? You're wanting to go all la dee dah and not involved the children.
Say you don't mean it Nunead Mum. Say you're not turning into Monica from Friends . . .

aims said...

Darlin - if you've got pull somewhere - then by all means - use it. Obviously you don't abuse it or we would have heard of eye-rolling and the whole bit - but you don't. Besides which - you must be a really nice person as well as the pharmacist came through without her lunch. I could never do that. My hands would shake too much!

I'm going away for 5 weeks - so I'm going to miss the saga (dammit). I'll catch up when I get back though!

Nunhead Mum of One said...

the Dotterel.....I'm there, say the word

Tara.....ooh no, I'm more like Pheobe I should imagine. Seriously.....Mac does one side, I do the other. Oh. Just like Monica.

Aims....we'll all still be here and the pharmacist did look a bit peaky but I put that down to spending fifteen minutes with Auntie Ivy.

nappy valley girl said...

Loved the Uncle Jim's prostate tale....The Doctor refuses to demand special treatment for me when we go to a hopsital...and while in principle I agree, sometimes it would be quite nice to jump the queue!

Anonymous said...

I shall be reserving a day for the Metro Centre either this week or next. Not looking forward to it one bit but I've decided I'm really struggling to buy everything I want off the internet.

CJ xx

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All about me

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Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.