Germ of an Idea

Dr House MD by caricaturas Nelson Santos

THERE’S apparently a move afoot to ban magazines from doctors’ waiting rooms in England, where the government’s health and safety watchdogs are driving most people to distraction with their over-the-top rules and regulations.

The magazines, they say, are a “comfortable nest for various types of pathogens or disease-causing germs”, according to the Perfect Health website, which reports that the health department of North Somerset has even widened its appeal to also take in hospitals and clinics.

Instead of providing magazines, medical centres are being urged to encourage patients to take their own magazines with them to kill the boredom while they’re waiting to be examined.

It makes sense, if you think about it. People go to the doctor when they’re sick, don’t they? They’re actually walking germ carriers and anything they touch is probably contaminated. Given the absorbent nature of paper, it’s probably a prime breeding ground.

I’m glad magazines are still provided in South African doctors’ waiting rooms, though, or I’d have missed out on an amusing exchange that gave me a little light relief as I waited at an East London radiography clinic the other day along with a dozen or so equally fed-up patients, (judging by their expressions).

I couldn’t vouch for the salubriousness of the magazine in question – a very well-thumbed copy of House and Garden dated November 2005 – but what patients had written in it made me laugh.

Their exchange followed the clinic’s order, handwritten on the magazine:
‘Do not remove this book.’

One bored patient with a ballpoint had written underneath: “I have been reading this book for the last 5 years.”

I can believe that – it was in a pile along with only one other general interest publication. The others were specialist magazines on cycling (from 2009), golf (from 2006) and high finance from last year!

The patient’s jibe drew a couple of responses.

One person took exception: “Do not be so rude. Be grateful that you can read.”

And another commented: “Maybe you shouldn’t come for x-rays so often.”

Back came the first patient, presumably on a subsequent visit: “I don’t do this for fun … it costs toooo much (but) God blesses me so I can read!”

Another writer tried to reconcile the situation with the appeal: “Please Father Christmas, could you bring these good folks some new old books.”

And someone else decided to take matters in hand, pointing out: “I made a few changes so you have something new to look at … hope you like.”

Among the many additions he or she had made was the instruction scribbled on one advertisement: “Feet off the chair, young man!”

But the addition I liked best was on the RMB private bank advert.
“Insanity: Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results,” said the advertisement.

Interjected the patient with a sense of humour: 

“Reading this book again? Hmmmn!”

By Stevie Godson
(A version of this column first appeared in the Daily Dispatch)


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This entry was posted by stevieg on Sunday, February 6th, 2011 at 9:55 am and is filed under General . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. What a fabulous column Stevie … Am I the only one who finds it irritating when people refer to magazines as “books”?

    • stevieg says:

      Thanks, Carrie. I don’t think you are – it annoys the hell out of me, too. I kept wanting to change ‘books’ to magazines but as that was what they’d written, I just had to grit my teeth …..

  2. Tishreen says:

    I like dr.House drawing hehe!

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