The building has Doctors Surgery labelled on the outside but it is mostly made of brick
and concrete within a single level. Windows stretch across the brick walls but whatever
objects lay beyond are shrouded by blinds. On three sides the building is guarded by
brilliant greens, swaying to the beat of an unseen breeze.
There are only three empty spaces in the car park but they have Doctor written in
white paint within their confines. They are empty but full at the same time. The car
in front has stopped suddenly, it is large and brown with a metallic sheen. A women,
perhaps in her seventh decade jumps out of the drivers side. She rushes to the boot
and pulls out a contraption that quickly extends to reveal a walking frame, complete
with wheels and brakes. She carries it to the passenger door that is open and reveals
two cream coloured trouser legs above brilliant brown shoes.
With the walking aid in place a male figure uncoils from the car and emerges like a
cream sail unfurled atop the frame. Stooped heavily on this he must still measure six
feet and has much of the solid body about him that this women has loved, has maybe
even enjoyed over the years. She has been his long time assistant, probably a lover
but never more.
His image speaks of intellect, maybe an artiste or retired antiques dealer. This
image is mostly crafted via the carefully shaped grey beard stuck only on the end of
his chin and his neat little hat that compliments the cream suit. He slowly wheels
towards the entrance, each step considered and determined. She disappears in a rush
back to the car.
Inside the main entrance there are two hatches, framed in white painted wood. On the
left a late 30's mother less at least two children and attired in different shades of
baggy taupe seems unable to fill in a form, the remnants of laughter loiter about the
corners of her mouth, reluctant to leave. On the right a tall thin man entirely
dressed in shades of khaki is laughing loudly as is a young women behind the perspex
that covers the top half of the hatch opening. She is dressed in shades of blue.
The laughter is past its best and all that now remains is the fond memory of
something that was precious moments before. The khaki guy keeps adding anecdotes
while the young women keeps laughing, but she is loosing momentum and now has to sigh
between laughs as if to emphasise that she really is having fun.
This all annoys me, it is not that I have arrived too late for the punchline! I am
annoyed because this unexpected laughter has become trite. Has it been so long since
he made anyone, even a pretty young women laugh? has it been so long that she has
As he turns my expression is the antidote for his mood; “I hope we havent put
you off this surgery?”
He judges me by my face and the assumption I have been here for the whole show. I
make a mental note to keep as much physical distance between us, least he tries to
I step up to the hatch. She is pretty but the shaped material about her body hide her
form, she puts me in mind of young Christian women. It takes about five seconds to
confirm I am here on the right day and before my allotted appointment.
To the left there is a large area filled with beige sofa's covered with fake animal
skin and people. There are tables covered in magazines. A women is standing, she
looks Indian but I cannot say for certain. She is dressed in cloth shaded in purples,
it is wrapped about her body in a fashion I associate with traditional costume of her
culture. She holds a baby protectively in her arms, at her side is a pram that seems
as much a mechanism for carrying shopping as it is for transporting the child. Our
eyes lock for a briefest second.
I am blond haired, which is cropped short with green eyes. My top is blue with
'England' written in large red letters across my chest, my expression now impassive.
She takes in the imagery and judges me, for my part I love her. She will have
forgotten me in a few moments but this assessment in her mind is like additional
confirmation of what she believes, will remain part of her and why she will continue
to stand even though there were plenty spaces when she got here.
Khaki man is sitting the far side of the room but I am only aware of his body on the
sofa and not what he is doing. Human forms pass through the edge of my vision as I
look for an empty space to sit. I see part of a twisted, skinny shape wearing a
checked shirt, it is bent into a wheelchair and grinning inanely. Something round and
young is corralling something tiny and pink. The legs of the artiste come and go, the
cream blends with that of the sofa. I sit.
The artiste and his women are sat beside each other commenting on a faded picture
hanging lopsided on the wall. They speak in tones from a time almost lost, of how the
light and shadow must have been the best feature of the picture, of social
intercourse, committing some faux paux, talking about the cleaning girl, cleaning
ornaments in the conservatory. Wherever they have come from we are all the same here,
with nothing to do but wait.
The round thing turns out to be younger than I thought but not quite sure how young,
to create this little thing she probably broke a law of this society. The little
thing is shaped like a pink pyramid but with a head, arms and legs. The pyramid is
skirted by frilly cotton which the mother adores for the attention it accumulates.
The pink pyramid is hardly able to move on its legs, it is never more than 10 steps
before collapsing cross legged on the floor, aware even at this age of its own
spectacle. Sometimes the mother will allow it to run towards the door, just about to
reach the sun bright world before dragging it back. As the collective intake of
breath is expelled she walks back across the space with a victorious look in her
eyes. This is mine, I created it, it defines and fulfils me.
My appointment is scheduled for 10:40. The tired government issue clock clicks past
11:22 and there is an audible beep on the other side of the room. We have been
trained to know what this means, someone's time has come. Their name crawls across a
large digital display which everyone briefly glances at. Only the owner of the name
looks longer, rereading the name, making sure they are not mistaken. This time it is
me. I stand, check that nothing in my possession remains and walk through the space,
nobody sees me but they all think 'when will it be me?'.
Through the door there are rooms and corridors, one of these spaces contains a man
that has all the answers.
Submission: 18 July 2006