Thursday, 1 April 2010

On waiting room reading material

    It has been my unfortunate lot recently to spend more time than I'd like to in NHS waiting rooms of various different shades. Before any Americans of a Republican bent seize upon my waiting as evidence of NHS failings I'd better point out that it has far more to do with my desire not to be late than it does with healthcare efficiency. Anyway, having seen a lot of them recently I have now become somewhat of an afficionado.
    For a start, the chairs are never comfortable. Yet again if you are someone concerned about Comrade Obama's Socialist Healthcare Utopia, be very afraid for your arse. You've got four years of waiting room comfort left. Makes sense, they're going to want you to stand up every few minutes to sing the Internationale, and you won't be so keen to do that if you're too comfy.
    I have learned pretty quickly not to rely on the reading material provided and to bring a paperback book. Once you've tired of posters exhorting the consumption of vegetables and signs in Urdu telling you not to pick your nose, all that is left are the tired-looking magazines in a heap on the table.
    Looking at the different magazines on offer I am mystified as to the process involved in their choice. My GP's surgery has a mixture of women's general interest magazines and very out of date "current" affairs magazines. Not bad, but while in bloke mode I'm quite happy to be seen reading Cosmopolitan I've seen more than one gloomy male patient thumbing through an Economist from last November. My local eye hospital has an even more bizarre selection, New Scientist, the National Trust magazine and interior design magazines.
    My most recent field trip yielded the most surprising result though. Accompanying my wife this morning to a waiting room almost exclusively visited by genetic XX women I found a few copies of Woman and Home, a Good Housekeeping and a couple of foodie magazines, but most bizarrely a big pile of classic car magazines and piloting and aircraft magazines.
    I can only conclude that there is a department within the NHS whose job involves distributing magazines to waiting rooms. Whether they are guided by a fiendish ingenuity bent on denying interesting reading material to bored patients or by a desire to cut costs through minimising magazine theft though I can't decide. I bet in the private hospitals you can order your preference of magazines delivered to you personally by a fearsome receptionist who looks and sounds like Joanna Lumley.
    I should be subverting the process by placing illicit copies of Ride in the eye hospital, Viz in my GP's surgery and Hello! in the ladies clinic, but I don't think the folk hero status I might earn would be worth it. Because they'd find me eventually and there I'd be, alone in an echoing waiting room, forced to spend eternity with nothing to read but Angling Times. And that's just too much of a risk.


  1. Well, rather than be outed by reading Glamour, Cosmo, etc., I just read my T-Blogs on my Blackberry. Makes for a very efficient use of time.

    It does go beyond that, however. T-Blog reading on a Blackberry can also provide efficient use of one's time in the loo, for instance. Some blogs lend themselves nicely to the time requirements of number one and some to number two. Then there are others that are just great for doctor's offices, airline waiting areas, etc. Gosh, I should do a post about this finding.

    This particular post, for instance, would be accommodated quite nicely in the loo. Makes for maximum efficient use of time. Surely, it is better than staring at the walls of the stalls.

    Calie xxx

  2. Lisa in Raleigh2 April 2010 at 01:20


    If you plan on making a habit of visiting waiting rooms, a few of us on this side of the pond should send you a collection of mags, now that would be subvertive.

  3. I think that waiting rooms are dependent on whoever feels inclined to drop magazines in. My health centre used to have a moderately eclectic mix, but these days have a dreary selection of Saga, Beautiful Britain style mags, National Geographics, and a smattering of those awful things with exclamation marks in the titles. If I can remember, I take down a few copies of the Bristol Review of Books to raise the tone. Though I make sure I have a novel with me. At the moment I am mostly reading The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, which is perfect waiting room reading. I imagine the old man opposite, who has just told his infirm wife that she looks like Norah Batty, being ripped to pieces by slavering wolves.

  4. I generally stick to Terry Pratchett. Fun to read, but I don't have to concentrate too much on them.

    Over here they have subscriptions to bulk magazine suppliers. All of the magazines get a generic boring cover, with the title of the magazine in small print so you have to take pot luck... Did you get the AutoWeek, or Knitting today? Unless you want to go through every magazine on the table with everybody staring at you, you don't know!


    PS Sorry for any typos - I just got off the bike in summer gloves when it's 2 degrees outside and I still can't feel my finger tips!

  5. @Calie: I fearlessly out myself in my reading matter. Hiding in plain sight, after all if you saw a slightly scruffy and giant-sized bloke reading Cosmo or Elle would you think "trans" or "bored"?
    You have ruined a beautiful illusion though. Gone is a vision of you behind an expansive desk surrounded by genuflecting corporate minions at the top of a gleaming downtown tower, instead you're in a dingy loo using t-blogs to take your mind away from graffiti speculating on the sexual exploits of the girl from Accounts. Please tell me you have the key to the Executive Washroom at least!

    @Lisa: Anything but Martha Stewart Living. That's not a Good Thing at all.

    @Dru: I would imagine a wolf-ripping would be the Just Deserts for anyone comparing their wife to Nora Batty. My choice of waiting room fiction is probably rather closer to Stace's.
    Not having bought a magazine in a very long time I'm unable to deposit my own selection, sadly. My wife and I have an entertaining diversion when faced with Hello! etc, we set a number and try to find or exceed that number of people we've heard of among the z-list celebs featured.

    @Stace: I feel your pain. Chip-and-PIN for buying petrol has ended the need for that embarrassing 5 minute wait for thawed fingers before you can sign the receipt.
    I could go with potluck magazines. Knitting today might try my patience a little though.

  6. Funniest piece I've read in a long while, Jenny. And I see I still have another 10 blogs ahead of me. Wish me luck!

    Me, I just carry the latest newspaper with me everywhere I go. I play catch up there as well.