It has been suggested that I share with you a typical day in the life of a top medical professional. Personally, I don't see that it's any of your business, but my agent seems to think that it's a good idea, so here goes.
My day usually begins quite early with a brisk five mile jog. Not for me, you understand - for my chauffeur who has to sprint from his filthy council estate to come and take me to work. Not that he minds all that much. He seems to think that the exercise is good for him, and I've done nothing to discourage him in this belief.
Of course, as a medical man I know only too well that this sort of nonsense can be fatal - being the major cause of heart attacks, embolisms, brain haemorrhages and rabies. Still, chauffeurs are fairly easy to come by at the moment, so I'm not too bothered.
Anyhow, this chap arrives at my house totally shagged out at around 9.30am. There's just time for him to get the Bentley out of the garage, clean it, valet it and change the oil before we have to be off.
He's an amiable sort of fellow, and he's usually bursting at the seams with cheery gossip and congenial conversation. It really is quite irritating, especially at that time in a morning, and so I usually scream at him to shut up and threaten him with the sack before it gets too stressful.
Of course, in my line of business, stress can be a killer. Quite literally. As a doctor I frequently have the lives of my patients in hands, and if I'm anxious or irritable it can be so easy to accidentally inject them with bleach or sever a windpipe. I know of many a promising young GP who has had their career tragically cut short by knifing someone in a moment of forgetfulness or fatigue.
How to unwind
That's why it's vitally important to learn how to unwind, and so before I go to the surgery I spend an hour or so at my local fitness club, where I sit in the lounge and watch ladies' bottoms wobbling as they use the running machines.
Sometimes I'm joined by Fatty Robinson, an old friend whom I first met at medical school. He's a very successful radiologist now. Or a proctologist. Or something like that.
I must admit, I've never been too sure what all these different 'ologists' do. As a doctor people often expect me to know about all that stuff, but in my experience the nurses are usually clued up enough about that sort of thing for me not to have to bother with it.
Anyway, whatever Fatty's particular line is, he is seriously loaded and well respected enough for us to excuse our ogling by claiming that it's all in the line of medical research. And such is our dedication that we both feel absolutely exhausted by the time we leave.
In order to recoup my energies, I usually like to spend an hour or two by myself. It's important to have time in the day that you can call your own. Sometimes I go and sit in the park, or take a stroll along the river.
And sometimes I go into Sainsbury's and squat in confectionery aisle with a Fun Size Mars Bar up my nose.
However the presence of ordinary people is something I find intensely irritating and after a while I start lashing out, so around about midday my chauffeur is usually called to come and pick me up from the police station.
For lunch I will join Fatty Robinson in the most expensive restaurant we can find, and we will converse loudly on the subject of our earnings for the benefit of the other diners. If there's time I will order something to eat, but more often than not my schedule simply won't allow it and I am whisked away to fulfil an obligation.
Sometimes I am asked to open some wretched hospice, or attend a book signing, or appear on some dreary TV programme. There are times when I yearn for the old days, when being a doctor meant you just got on with your job of curing people, instead of pursuing the lifestyle of a media celebrity. At times like these I become quite depressed, but one look at my bank statement soon lifts my mood and in no time I'm ready for a spot of golf.
I love golf. It's the atmosphere of the club that I find so invigorating. There's something quite intoxicating about the smell of so many rich and influential people gathered together in one place.
There's a feeling that you get when you first roll into the car park; a kind of tingle that shimmies down your spine when you see all those Mercs and Porsches and Daimlers. It's the reassurance of knowing that the only plebs you're going to run into will be filling up your glass or cleaning up the vomit.
I like it best when it's raining, as then there's very little incentive to actually leave the clubhouse and play a round.
Late in the day
It's usually quite late in the day by the time I leave. If possible, I like to call in at the surgery, just to check up on how things are going. I know that many of the patients find it quite uplifting to see me stride through the packed waiting room, picking my way carefully over their slumped and broken forms, with a cheery 'Hallo' and a comforting smile.
Sometimes, if I'm in the mood, I'll even agree to see one or two of them. This is really what my profession is all about - sitting there, patiently listening as they tell me about their ailments. The coughing, the choking, the bleeding, the swollen glands, the distended abdomens, the broken limbs, the fevers, the burning throats, the headaches, the nausea, the cramps, the fits, the suppurating ulcers and the infected wounds.
I find that if I tell them it's a virus and sell them a signed copy of my book, they will go away quite happy.
Then it's time to head home, but not before I meet up with Fatty Robinson one last time for a quick game of squash at the local gym. I'm very competitive, and if I don't win I can become quite annoyed and I cry like a girl.
If it's a particularly spectacular defeat I have been known to hijack a cab and drive home along the pavements, killing and maiming many innocent bystanders. By the time I get home I've usually calmed down and am happy to pass the evening relaxing with a bottle of whiskey and a good book - preferably one of my own.
Sometimes the police may call round to question me about the earlier mayhem in the high street, but a couple of quick phone calls usually sorts the matter out. That's the thing about being one of the most high profile physicians in the country - I know people. But then, every job's got to have its perks, hasn't it?
Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2003