Friday afternoon I went for a hard won appointment at my GP's in Leeds.
God forbid if Jeremy Hunt ever does get his way about rationing appointments with a doctor; the practice receptionist will become the most hated profession in the country. But after being prodded and poked I was sort of relieved he hear that my GP concurred with me. I was ill with quite a high temperature! They attempted to take a blood sample but due to very deep veins in my arms after several attempts defeat was admitted and I was asked to attend when a professional phlebotomist was present. I had entered the surgery feeling sweaty and distinctly crap, I left feeling the same but with a sore and punctured arm too, the hand attached to it clutching a swathe of prescriptions for antibiotics and my druggy lifeline of inhalers for my chronic asthma.
After a quick trip to Boots to collect my prescriptions - which included walking past the Lancôme counter where the assistant smiled broadly at me (whilst most likely whilst muttering Ker Ching underneath her breath). Several days ago she had expertly relieved me of £109 for cosmetics. With hindsight I am ashamed i spent more on facecream and girly stuff in 10 mins than when my children were younger we had to spend on food and necessities in a week! But looking at the positive - it wasn't gin.
At the moment I am not a gin fuelled activist but one "assisted by antibiotics"
Wandering sweaty and unwell through the streets of Leeds a coffee was in order. As i am trying not to go in starbucks i decided to go to Marks and Spencer's café for a brew, besides they also had water and ice there so I could multitask and take my first lot of tablets and industrial strength paracetamol to get my temperature down. Feeling a bit better 20 minutes later I wandered out of the café and headlong into the underwear department.
Now lets get this straight the only people who ever see my knickers are the neighbours when they are hung out to dry, and i will be honest it isn't a pretty sight. At my age a decent pair of undies are those that fit snugly under the arm pits and don't flap too much round the knees! So I started prowling the knicker racks, which in a nutshell can be a very revealing experience in itself.
The only big decision I had to make was 3 pairs for £10 or should I splash out and go for 5 pairs for £12. I went for the ten quid option and as a consequence by the time i had migrated down to the food department to buy nice orange juice and fizzy water i was clutching three pairs of knickers (all of which were on those little hangers) in one hand. The store by now was full of shoppers who were dropping off to buy food for the weekend on their way home from work.
I am good at queuing, i critically assess the food in peoples baskets to help pass the time. But after a couple of minutes of waiting it wasnt the food i was checking out but the young man staffing the till. Twenty if he was a day and obviously from the sweet soft looking face wasnt particularly au fait with the morning ritual of shaving! Two people in front of me, four behind. Sarah clutching three pairs of knickers suddenly realised that this dewy faced youth along with my orange juice, bread and cake was going to have to scan my underwear. I considered reversing out of the queue feigning an excuse "Whoops forgot to get Grandma a get well card" but lets be fair if i can challenge a chief fire officer facing off a youth on a till should be a doddle.
To be fair the first pair was the worst.
Did i want the hanger? No!
Did i need them in a seperate bag? No!
As he started to carefully fold them my embarassment got the better of me and i snatched them off him and stuffed them in the carrier. He did attempt to repeat the ritual on scanning the second pair but the withering look i gave him cleary indicated disdain and he handed them unfolded to me and i stuffed them in the bag. Pair three and he had cracked it........pinged them off the hanger a quick peep from the scanner and handed them straight to me.I have never paid a bill as quickly in my life and left without putting my change in the little plastic fire engine collecting for the Fire Fighters Charity as i usually do.
As they help the emergency services and this was an emergency i am sure they will understand.(and perhaps internet shopping is the way to go, where knickers are involved anyway!" And it wasn't half as bad as the Lidl Condom / mints fiasco - I suffered PTSD from that and haven't bought mints in tins since!