Thursday, 6 January 2011

Images: Candles shine along the street as we bring in the light.

New Year’s Eve, New Year’s day

The health centre’s waiting room was almost full, we took the final spaces joining the ranks of those looking for a cure before the turn of the year. The locum boomed out the name of the next patient as if he had worked all his career in a much larger practice, I looked to see if the waiting room had somehow been extended while my attention had wandered.

With the doctor returned to his consulting room and a respectful pause given, those who remained felt compelled to share their view of the temporary doctor or more importantly his manner. Briefly I felt like a local as this proxy parliament swung into debate. Our ‘old doctor’ who is still confusingly referred to as the ‘new doctor’ by those who can still remember the previous occupant of the position has retired due to ill health. And so we await the arrival of another ‘new doctor‘, who shall carry this title until he or she faces their retirement. Every initial greeting will be prefixed with , “you must be the new doctor,” as if somehow those of us who still qualify as tourists having not been born on the island of Mull will have gained some history with the place. Conversations beyond the health centre will begin with “have you seen the new doctor?” and answered with, “do you remember the old doctor?” Older residents will of course secure their positions as community elders by correcting their youngers and referring to the old doctor as the new doctor and the latest arrival as just the ‘latest doctor’.

There is a weighty duty on all of us to practice our appraisal skills. Undoubtedly our opinions will be sought in pubs, on fishing boats, in the local shops, over fences and fields, in the huddle of parents that haunt the home time bell, and when all is said and done in a crowded waiting room.

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