It’s been a bad morning at the Boots pharmacy in Kendal, which is why I’m posting some gentle pictures of the park where, earlier, I walked Tess before the catastrophe…
The annual ritual of the flu jab is upon us. We soothe it with breakfast in Kendal afterwards; but we have a Collie dog, Tess, who needs at least two good walks plus frisbee chucks each day. The logistics can be demanding…
Boots Chemist don’t allow dogs in their stores. I’m okay with that–especially after a run in muddy park; so we take turns to have a tiny needle pushed into the muscles of our upper arm, while the other one looks after Tess.
You can probably sense the sinister way the tension is building, so I’ll insert another picture of beautiful, soothing, autumnal Kendal:
Because we were operating serially, and we don’t always get processed at the time it says on the appointment, Bernie usually calls me when it’s approaching my turn.
The phone rang… mmm, early!
“The pharmacist is stuck on the M6!” Bernie’s voice said. “Twenty minutes at least.” It can happen. Heaven knows we’ve had enough disasters of our own – stuck in motorway tailbacks.
So we decided that I would give Tess a longer play than normal while Bernie waited outside the side door of Boots which they wouldn’t open because the pharmacist had not arrived. And then, if the pharmacist had still not arrived, have a small coffee at the Costa that’s just around the corner from Boots.
It was a crisp morning, and the thought of my wife, on-time and being made to stand outside the store on a cold morning was not peace-inducing. She can have a short fuse on such occasions…
“I’ll carry on chucking Tess, then,” I said. “Give me a five minute warning when you’re about done with your jab.”
I started another circuit of the park, taking me away from the entrance. After only a few minutes the phone rang unexpectedly.
It was Bernie. The display said so… But there was no voice. This happened twice more over the next two minutes and I remember thinking of using my phone instead of the frisbee and apologising with my arms to the other – and nearby – dog walker who was getting fed up of hearing me shout, “Can you hear me?”
The phone beeped and, without thinking, I repeated my moronic question. There was silence, then I noticed it was a message, not an incoming call.
‘Please come to Boots, now.’ Read the message.
There was an unspoken urgency in the words. There was also a complete lack of explanation, suggesting that a probing return text would be… unwelcome.
I was, at that point, staring down at a steaming pile of dog-poo, successfully coaxed from Tess after our first twenty minutes of chucking the frisbee. In my left hand was a readied poo bag, clutched like a demonic glove puppet and ready to swoop on the pile. But the summons was clearly urgent!
I left the dog poo where it was…
It was in the long grass and well off the pathways, I reasoned. No-one but me was going to be in that small piece of wilderness in the three days it would take to rot down… In truth, I was more occupied with the raging fury hidden in the phone’s text.
Something bad, really bad, had happened.
She was standing outside the door of Boots.. looking… em… icy.
“They processed you quickly,” I said, lamely; instantly regretting it.
“They didn’t,” the icy tones replied. “Give me Tess, they’re waiting for you…”
Two minutes later, I had bypassed the scowling matron at the dispensary desk and was being ushered by a young and clearly flustered locum-pharmacist into the tiny injection room.
“She’s really annoyed!” He managed, looking both surprised and browbeaten.
No kidding! I thought, presuming he meant my wife and wondering how badly this lesson in real-time living was going to end.
“I got here as fast as I could, but I can only process one of you…”
I think I stuttered.
“But she’s standing…” I pointed back out of the cupboard.
“She’s paying,” he offered. “So I can’t deal with her. You’re an old person and it’s free on the NHS. As a locum, I’m only allowed to work on NHS cases.”
He coughed – a kind of insecure punctuation to the sentiment. I suppressed a smile. He had, single-handedly, rubbished my glorious ascent to my sixty fifth year… and ‘free’ flu jabs.
“But,” I said, now incented to increase his discomfort “She ‘told’ Boots all that on the form she filled in!”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m just a locum..” Then he added, raising a finger, “We can give her a discount!”
Bernie has told them she will be seeking a new supplier of flu jabs.
I hope the poo is untrodden. I sincerely hope I don’t dream of sneaking out in the darkness and trying to find it… the green plastic puppet in my left hand…
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.
The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.