Doctor Love

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5pm, Friday, I’m undressing for a man.CC Image courtesy of heipei on Flickr


I make the call at lunchtime. ‘No bookable appointments for two weeks’, they say. I’m about to hang up.

‘We’ve just had a cancellation. 4:40.’



I vacillate. Work is quiet. Pub drinks are in the pipeline. I should go, alleviate my concerns. My health is more important than a gin and tonic with Tobias and Co.

‘Hmm today’s a bit tricky.’


‘Are you busy this afternoon?’ Gus says, when I’m back at my desk.

‘Errr… why?’

I should be going to the doctor. I shouldn’t be taking on a ton of Gus’ work so that he can leave early for a wedding.

I start Googling symptoms. Ten minutes later I’m convinced I have a solitary mastocytoma. I grab my phone and go out into the stairwell.

‘Is the 4:40 appointment still available?’


‘Come in.’


‘What can I do for you?’

I tell him about The Rash.

‘Did you start doing anything differently when it first appeared?’

That’s a vague question. I mean I wasn’t having sex if that’s what he means, though that sure as Hell would have been different.

‘No… no.’

‘Have you been away anywhere recently?’ he says, examining my back.

‘Err… Berlin in February? Other than that, I’m probably the most stationary person you’ve ever met…’

It’s like a date, this, only I can be way more candid. It’s also 5pm on a gloriously sunny Friday so I should probably stop with the glib remarks.

‘And… Yorkshire, last October…’

I think he’s trying to establish if I’ve visited anywhere where I might have been exposed to tropical diseases. Yorkshire is probably not top of the list.

‘And, what do you do?’ he says, resuming his seat.

This really is like a date. Date slash Tinder conversation, which is about as close to a date as I’ve got recently.

‘Copywriting,’ I say.

‘So you’re not exposed to any toxic chemicals…’

Lots of things about my job are toxic but…

‘No. Most of my office is permanently ill but I think that’s because we’re overworked.’

He manages a faint smile. ‘You want to try and avoid stressful situations.’

I take the prescription for anti-fungal cream – this bit is less like a date – and thank him as I leave.

CC Image courtesy of r0b1 on Flickr

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Three Little Words

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CC Image courtesy of Slaff on FlickrI’ve got it bad for the guy. The usual suspects: waking up and he’s the first person I think of; asking everyone I’m on speaking terms with – and a few people I’m not – if it would be a bad idea to add him on Facebook; I even start writing poems again. Shudder. (They really are bad.)

The consensus is, add him. Which is nice to hear, but I’d have done it anyway.

The next day, I’m at a friend’s house. She’s trying to persuade me to ask an old flame for help with a job application. I’m being stubborn.

‘If you won’t call him, I will!’

‘No!’ I say, grabbing the phone out of her hands. ‘Argh, OK, I’ll do it.’

I fish my phone out of my bag. The ‘home’ button is flashing green.

‘Ooh! He’s accepted my–.’

The words die in my throat. Below the profile picture and education information are three little words:

In a relationship.

‘But – but – I don’t understand!’

‘He’s in a relationship,’ my friend says, in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.

‘But – but – he asked me if he should get with that girl! At the party!’

‘Oh – yeah.’

‘He must have been really drunk,’ I say, nodding.

‘So… what are you going to say to him?’


Friend sighs. ‘No, to Richard! About the job!’

She’s invited me round to do job applications, not to discuss my latest crush’s dubious take on monogamy.

‘Oh – right. I’ll draft something.’

I get out notepad and pen and begin.

Hi Richard,

I break off. ‘I can’t believe it.’



I bend my head to the notepad.

I hope you are well…

I pick up my phone, scroll down the page.


I throw the phone into my bag.

… and enjoying the summer.

Like I am.

CC Image courtesy of SimonQ on Flickr

Adverse Conditions (Freddie, Part 1)

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CC Image courtesy of Erik Mallinson on FlickrI’m really bored at work.  ‘Talking to the plant’ kind of bored.  The kind of bored which makes you do things which you know are a bad idea, but, because they provide momentary relief from the boredom, you do them anyway.  Like texting Sam and suggesting he discreetly asks Freddie what he thinks of me, at a party they’re going to that evening.  Half an hour later, following consultation with plant, I realise this is a stupid idea, and send a follow-up text saying not to bother.

The next day, I hear from Sam.

‘Did try.  Think I aroused his suspicions though.’

That’ll teach me – except it won’t.

I request details.  Nothing.  Eventually he replies:

‘Just asked which of our mutual acquaintance he fancied.’

‘That’s not a bad approach – well done!  Why do you think you aroused his suspicions?’

There’s clearly more to it.

‘He didn’t answer immediately so I asked if it was you.’


‘He was cagey but not adverse.  I hope I haven’t panicked you.’

‘No, don’t worry,’ I say. What is panicking me is that you’ve used ‘adverse’, when I think ‘averse’ is the more appropriate word.’ 

It’s a miracle I have friends.

‘You’re right,’ he says, ‘meant averse.  You coming this eve?’

Freddie will be there.

‘Yep, see you later!’

I’m not panicking.

CC Image courtesy of litherland on Flickr

Catching Up

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‘How was last night?’€™ my mother asks.CC Image courtesy of kendrick on Flickr

Wild passionate sex… did not feature. It was a friend’s birthday drinks.

‘You’€™ll never guess who was there!’ I say. ‘Andrew Maclean!’

My first real – in every sense of the word – boyfriend.

‘It was fine actually. As in – we chatted a bit – but – well – I can’t help feeling, with an ex, there’€™s always an element of competition…’

‘What’€™s he doing now?’

‘He’€™s a management consultant!’ I say, laughing. ‘So yeah, not really a competition!’

‘I was going to say…’

Thank you Mother.


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‘Take his head in your hands…’CC Image courtesy of Bert Werk on Flickr

I’m already feeling sorry for the guy.

‘… and kiss him like he’s never been kissed before…’

I’ve made the mistake of asking my editor for seduction advice.

‘… and see if he kisses you back!’


At this point my editor launches into the story of how, soon after moving to the capital, his attractive American lodger came into the communal room one evening and asked him if he’d like a blow job.

There’s a knock at the office door; it’s his wife, with a pair of shoes for him to try on.

I turn back to the computer with a sigh.  There’s only one kind of job I’ll be doing in the near future.

CC Image courtesy of emdot on Flickr