Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Red mist mars the spring sunshine

When my wife and I got married early in 2009, the vicar presented us with an outsize candle and advised us to light it every time we had a row.

Most observers bet that it would not last until Easter, but in fact it has not been lit once. And now it never will be, because someone foolishly stuck it on a windowsill, where the recent heatwave has melted it into a grotesque lump.

It definitely reminds me of something ... the more than faintly obscene remains of our row candle after someone (who shall remain nameless, but we all know who it is) left it standing in the sun
A taste of the somewhat unconventional ceremony where the candle was handed over

I eagerly awaited my wife’s return from her “hen weekend” so that we could discuss this, in line with the strict blame culture applied in the Hann household. But luckily we still failed to have a row, even when my hopes of a goodly supply of eggs were cruelly dashed. Wrong sort of “hen weekend”, apparently.

It says much for Mrs Hann’s saintly nature that we manage to live so peaceably when I am in a permanent state of badly suppressed fury. On Friday I was angry because I spent five ghastly hours driving to a dinner where no one wanted to speak to me.

While on Thursday, the red mist rose because I had exactly the opposite experience of not being ignored while simply trying to pick up a prescription from my local pharmacy.

To my amazement, I was ushered into a consulting room with the pharmacist and invited to take a seat to discuss my medication. I demurred, being on a tight schedule for lunch in Newcastle, but naturally asked what it was all about.

And the answer was that “rather than simply handing the drugs over, we now like to make sure that our customers know why they have been prescribed them and how to take them.”

I wondered whether I looked like a man who would not know the difference between a pill and a suppository. My doctor prescribed the tablets, so why would I want supplementary advice from a pharmacist? Is this a ploy to fill the 95% of their time that must have been saved by medics prescribing by computer, rather than in an illegible scrawl?

And where will this sort of thing end? Will I be called into a consulting room with my butcher so that he can tell me how the pig felt about being made into sausages, what they are likely to do to my arteries, and how best to cook them?

If the practice spreads to off-licences, I will need to write off half a day every time I want to buy a bottle of Scotch.

So I fixed the chemist with one of my withering looks, informed him that I could read, and flounced off.

It served me right when I got home and read the thousand-word leaflet with the heart medication three times without being able to fathom whether I was supposed to take it in the morning or evening, and with or without food. But since the manufacturer did not think to mention this among all the guff about possible side-effects, most of which I am currently suffering, it seems reasonable to assume that it does not matter.

Then I took my pristine car for a service at my local garage, and it returned with a large, ugly chip out of the driver’s door, which apparently they can produce hours of CCTV footage to prove was not their fault. The red mist was positively billowing by this stage.

So that is two local businesses I probably won’t be using again. Slowly but surely the horizons of the irascible narrow. I would go on an anger management course but it would almost certainly give me another heart attack.

There is clearly no point buying a replacement row candle that we never light, so I am going to try ordering an anger candle instead. No, on second thoughts, make that a gross.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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