Doctor William Morgan's fingers moved briskly across the keyboard, typing in his password like an irritated tap dancer, and finished by hitting the enter key with venom. Then, whilst waiting for the programme to start-up, he looked mournfully at the ticket tossed angrily on the desk in front of him. Outside, the sun was climbing high into a perfect azure sky, and even the birds singing in the trees visible from his surgery window seemed to be chirping mockingly at him.
This day of all days his partner was ill: this day which he had booked off months before, and had looked forward to with keenness and longing during the long winter days. It was supposed to be a day upon which to be safely anonymous, amongst 20,000 others, sipping beer and enjoying the ridiculous wonder that was cricket.
He brought up the list of appointments for his morning surgery and let his eyes scan down the names with a heart sinking gloom. Not his list of course: this should have been Martin's surgery, but Martin had the flu. This was the second day of the test match with England standing at 290 for 3 and a perfect day for batting outside. Ten miles away the crowds would be piling in and William was stuck here because Martin had the Flu!
"Oh! Let's just get on with it and I might manage to get there before lunch, if I'm lucky," he said to himself, clicked on the name at the top of the list and heard the buzzer in reception call in the first patient.
Unbidden, an image appeared in his mind. He saw himself as a batman striding up to the crease, taking strike and looking down the wicket at the first bowler of the day.
Mrs Crosby shuffled very slowly in the door and then took an age to take off her coat. Underneath, William knew, there would be eight other layers. It was 25 degrees outside but Mrs Crosby always believed in layers because she did not wish to ‘catch a chill'. Mrs Crosby produced a list. William groaned inwardly and tried to see how many items there were. Like her layers there had to be at least eight.
Mrs Crosby was dispatched in due course with "something to help my cough", "a tablet for me rheumatics" and "a bottle for the bowels." Like an opening batsman struggling against the new ball it had taken a while to get off the mark but he was away at last.
The retired electrician, Phillip Brown, limped into the room and sat down with a worried expression, and bowled a googly.
"Doctor," he began, "I think I have one of those DVD's in my leg!"
Establishing that Mr Brown was concerned, not about a video of ‘The Italian Job' or ‘Carry on Camping', but in fact a deep vein thrombosis, and following that up with reassurance that he had in fact just pulled a muscle, William felt like he was starting to get into his stride.
Next up was Barty Archer who announced solemnly, "I have a hake on my head," requiring William to turn away and bite his finger for a moment before, his face composed, he could turn back and continue the consultation like a batsman who having survived a Yorker sends it back over the bowlers head into the pavilion.
After Barty, William took stock. 30 minutes down, three patients seen and in his head he had scored 25 and survived a few nasty deliveries. That is when the phone rang. Janet the receptionist was announcing that there was a request for a home visit.
"Just record it in the diary and I will check it in a minute," the doctor answered, putting the phone down. Dam it, but he could almost feel the ball clatter into his pad and the opposition team going up as one for the ‘leg before' appeal.
The phone rang again.
"It's about that visit. They rang back to say don't worry about it, but they will come to surgery tomorrow."
"Not out!" William muttered.
"What was that, doctor?"
"Don't worry about it, thank you Janet"
Gertrude Taylor was next in.
"You are not Dr Spencer. I always see him, where is he?" was the opening gambit blasting past William's ears like a vicious bouncer.
"Sorry Mrs Taylor," he replied apologetically, "but Dr Spencer is ill."
Mrs Taylor looked like this was a personal insult and had been arranged just to annoy her.
"Well, I must say it is very inconvenient, but I had better tell you the whole story."
William tried to look interested in the ‘whole story' and, as every atom in him screamed for her to get a move on and come to the point, he heard how it all began three years before, when she had been to the supermarket to buy a turkey for Christmas but they had sold out. The story passed through a description of the problems of cooking goose, the state of "youth" today and finally ended up with an account of the value of bran. However at no stage did it show any familiarity with a point.
"So then, Mrs Taylor, what can I do for you to day?" William interjected abruptly in a vain attempt to work out why the woman was here.
Mrs Taylor looked at William as if he demonstrated the state of youth today and perhaps could benefit from more bran, before saying that she thought he would have guessed, and she could not waste any more time and so would book to see Dr Spencer because he was a ‘proper doctor'. She then stomped out leaving William with the image of a stampeding elephant.
Mrs Taylor's appointment had taken twenty five minutes and at the Test ground England would now be batting in the match he was missing. In his head, William's batsman had not scored for half an hour.
Roger Wilson was a thin elderly man who sat gingerly on the seat and nervously asked for "you know."
William replied that he did not know.
"You know doctor, I want You Know"
The doctor wondered if he was asking for Viagra or some condoms and hinted at that. The old man snorted a laugh that emerged and retreated via his nose.
"U-N-O, doctor. It's a cough medicine I remember from when I was a nipper. Good stuff UNO."
UNO might have been good stuff in the 1950's but William had never heard of it and dished out pholcodine.
Ok, difficult over that but William was now in the 40s and making some progress. That was when a smiling Janet came in with a message from a patient and rain stopped play.
The entry read "gets pain in back when he lifts up his balls." This needed a ten minute phone call to establish that John Swanston suffered from sciatica but had decided this morning to resume his favourite pastime of crown green bowling. Upon bending over to pick up his set of balls from the closet he felt his back ‘go'. Painkillers were prescribed and the prescription left at the desk.
William resumed his batting and quickly passed his half century thanks to a succession of three children: one with a quickly treated sore throat, one with diarrhoea and the other with chickenpox.
Feeling confident now, the doctor was rattling along as if this was a twenty20 game, when a snorter of a delivery practically cut him in two and almost knocked over his stumps.
Martha Reynolds, a mother of three children all under five, rang up and insisted on immediately speaking to William.
"It's the children, "she explained," they are all ‘burning up' and have this rash and I am so worried that they have meningitis. Can you come see them straight away!"
A pause, then because there was nothing to be done except to say yes, William replied as he knew he must, "Yes, Mrs Reynolds, I will see them at once."
Lacking blue flashing lights, the doctor drove his car as fast as he could through the mid morning traffic to the Reynold's address: number 14 Featherstone Close. Out of breath and feeling frazzled, William raced up the path and entered the house. The living room contained the mother and the three boisterous children, sitting together on the sofa and collectively giggling at Tom and Jerry. With the TV on full volume, William asked a few questions then examined the trio. One had a slight temperature and the second a single red spot. The third one drooled on William and then giggled again.
Martha Reynolds was enthusiastic with her thanks and relief, when William announced the lack of meningitis, offered the doctor tea and cakes and would not take no for an answer. So it was a full twenty minutes later, after gulping down scalding tea and an Eccles cake, when William arrived back at the surgery. By now there were three other irritated patients waiting for him so, muttering apologies, he pressed on.
The situation called for desperate action. At the crease the batsman eyed the Long off boundary and targeting the top windows of the pavilion, he prepared to advance down the wicket.
Jack Kent, a 76 year old retired policeman had in-growing toe nails and bunions. William deftly stepped to the side, angled the bat and was rewarded by a boundary with little effort as he signed a chiropody referral form which saw Jack on his way.
Brenda Cornwall, a bridge partner of Mrs Crosby, was also usually armed with her list of many problems but fortune shone on William as she, cursing softly, said she had left it as home and would book to come back and see Martin in the morning. The intended yorker was fumbled by the bowler and turning into a full toss was sent clattering into the advertising hoardings.
Helena Montague was a 12 year old girl with belly ache and was almost dismissed by the impatient William as having a stomach bug before, in the nick of time, he spotted the disguised delivery and sent Helena to the surgical on call unit with suspected appendicitis to score another boundary off a ball that almost had bowled him.
His century drawing close, William was not surprised to see the opposition changing the bowling attack and choosing wrist spin in the form of the Singh family. Pleasant and polite and always smiling, but speaking almost no English between them, William always found them a struggle. Finding out what they had come with was the first hurdle, explaining what to do about it was the next. Ball after ball span wildly in and away from the batsman who, now sweating heavily, looked on the verge of losing his wicket after all the hard work.
Then with a flash of insight, William realised that the elderly couple wanted him to sign passport forms for them. This was done swiftly and as Mr and Mrs Singh departed after showering him with thanks, the batsman finally stepped down the track, paused for a moment and swung the bat hard and straight at the ball which like a rocket shot back, far above the fielder's heads and smashed the commentator's window. This brought his 100 up and, with the crowd rising to their feet and clapping, the doctor now saw his surgery was finally complete.
William reached his seat at the Test ground a little after lunch. Just as he sat down, one hand clutching a pint of Magners and the other a pork pie, there was a roar from England's opponents and their number 5 batsman was bowled on 99. William imagined for a moment strapping on some pads and striding to the crease to have a go. Then he thought to himself: "you already made a century today, let someone else have a try." So, sitting back, he sipped the ice cold drink bit into his pie and smiled.
Causes Richard Denning Supports
Sponsor a Child
The Red Cross