I love being a doctor. I love the variety, the capacity to touch lives. But most of all, I love the holidays.
The very best bit of my job is not doing it, and instead doing the crossword on the beach.
I won’t name my favourite holiday town for fear of spoiling it: quite frankly, I don’t need you there. Instead, I’ll code it anagrammatically.
Your presence would be superfluous, because sQueencliff already overflows with relaxed doctors: many so relaxed they’ve retired or died. I know these things because for six years I was these retired doctors’ doctor, and I also lived opposite the cemetery. Probably should have split that sentence into its two unrelated halves, actually.
It’s more fun being a relaxed doctor than looking after one. Whenever I holiday in a small town I always envy the local GPs, but of course in my imagination I’m sandy footed and solving cryptic crosswords between appointments.
“Do your urine sample at the surf club just past that jetty, Mr Jones, while I complete 6-down: ‘sQueencliff, idyllic village’. No rush.”
In reality, holidays are the toughest season for the local healers. All their elderly patients are too fragile to leave town, but everyone else’s complex patients seem to have been prescribed a fortnight’s sea air. Inevitably, the briny breeze is poor substitute for their forgotten heart pills and, predictable as the tides, day four involves a breathless visit for their white tablets. You know, the round ones, maybe yellowish. It’ll be on your computer.
Even idyllic villages evolve. These holidays, my wife convinced me to upgrade from our usual eatery with merely two menu items, fish and something-or-other (chips, I think it was), to one of the newer establishments with twenty-word meal descriptors involving essences of everything imaginable except, possibly, gluten.
Our young waiter was black (not racially, but in the Melbourne sense) and disinterested in bridging any generational divide. Low tide ebbed and flowed and still no food arrived – perhaps the chef was still coaxing milk out of our activated almonds.
I amused myself (certainly not my wife) with the menu, pondering aloud the plural of jus, and discovering agnolotti is an anagram of giant tool – my wife mumbled something about irony.
The food finally arrived in a tower so thin it may have been renting the plate per square-inch. The bill indicated the inch overlooked Manhattan’s Central Park.
The following night, as the crisp breeze blew sand over the sea wall and onto my battered fish, I turned with relaxed satisfaction to my beloved. ‘I reckon we should move back here.’
We didn’t, of course. Would have entailed looking after too many relaxed doctors.