The Suicide Cat

Published December 9, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

Beth stood at the edge of the cliff, her eyes closed, listening to the waves thrashing against the rocks beneath her, feeling the wind slapping her, and whipping her hair across her face. Thirty-six years had culminated to this resolution. Thirty-six years of struggle and pain and feeling out of place. Thirty-six years of angst and self-torment. Even with her eyes closed, Beth could feel the moon shining a spotlight onto her. This was her moment, her final curtain call, time for that final bow.

She listened to those wonderful waves calling her name. About to take a step forward into the salty wet audience, she stopped herself. She listened again. It was definitely a cat meowing. Confused she opened her eyes and blinked to adjust to the moonlight. Taking a few steps back she turned around. Nothing. She could see the gorse bushes pushing against the wind, spiky warriors standing their ground, the blackness of the coast path in front of her, leading to inky blobs of rocks and boulders. It was ten o’clock on a deserted clifftop, her mind must be playing tricks on her, maybe as some cruel final encore. See, you are totally mad, jump off and disappear. A meow again, this time louder.

Beth peered into the darkness in the direction of the sound, still nothing.

‘Hello?’

Another louder meow was followed by two twinkling eyes materialising out from path in front of her. A black mini panther, the size of a domestic cat. The cat meowed again and slinked towards Beth, tail twitching in the air, stopping just in front of her.

Beth crouched down and held her hand out. ‘Hello. What are you doing up here?’

The cat cautiously approached her outstretched hand, sniffed, then rubbed his face against it. Beth scratched him under the chin and stroked his skinny body as it weaved around her hands.

‘You shouldn’t be up here, this wind will blow you off the cliff, you’ve got no weight on you, you silly thing. Do you live close by? Have you even got a home? What am I going to do with you?’ Beth continued her monologue of questions as the cat revelled in her attention and the wind played with her hair.

Beth stood up. ‘Well I can’t do this with you watching me. Do you want to come back with me?’

The cat meowed with perfect timing.

Beth smiled. ‘Just for one night though, I’ll postpone for one night. I’ve no more nights paid at the hotel so I’ll find you somewhere else to go in the morning. Deal?’

The cat meowed and rubbed against her legs.

‘Come on then.’ Beth started to trek back down the coast path towards the bay and the hotel. She glanced behind her, the cat was following her. She chatted to him as she navigated steep banks, slippery leaves and gnarled tree roots attempting to trip her. Every glance back was met with the vision of the black shadow with stars for eyes trotting after her.

Sneaking the cat into the hotel wasn’t a problem. Beth’s room was on the ground floor and there was a back door leading into her corridor from outside. Six stealthy feet scuttled along the corridor and into the room. After flopping onto the bed and partaking in strokes, head nudges and purrs, Beth called for room service, a tuna sandwich, a ham sandwich, and a chicken sandwich. The cat ate the contents of all three and lapped up water from a fine china saucer.

After a cleaning and grooming session the cat curled up next to Beth on the bed and slept soundly. Beth slept soundly for the first time in a long time too.

Beth observed the different shades of black fur on the cat as the morning sunlight seeped in through the curtains. Darkest brown tinges and indigo hues mingled in with the sleek tarry blackness. She felt calm and relaxed watching his belly move in and out contently and rhythmically with her breath. The cat yawned, opened his eyes slowly, and stretched his paw out into her chin, splaying his pads in a furry high five.

‘Good morning to you too.’

The cat licked his fur three times and stood up for a full body yoga stretch. Beth opened the curtains and made herself a coffee and the cat jumped off the bed, sitting knowingly by the patio door.

‘Time to go or do you just need the loo?’

Apparently it wasn’t time to go. After a toilet trip to the hotel flower beds the cat strolled back in for a wash before breakfast. Room service was ordered, extra sausage and extra bacon. Room service was eaten.

Beth’s suitcase was already packed. She’d packed it last night before going to the cliff top. She’d ask them to store her luggage for her until she decided on an altered plan of action. She dialled reception. ‘Hi, this is a strange question but is there anywhere on the island that rehomes cats or takes them in?…No, I found one this morning, I know pets aren’t allowed in rooms.’ She winked at the cat, the cat blinked back. ‘Oh ok, could you book me a taxi to take me there please?…Yes, as soon as possible…Thank you.’

‘I don’t take cats.’ The taxi driver shook his head to confirm this point. ‘They make a mess.’

Beth thought that was ironic considering he was wearing most of his breakfast remains on his sweatshirt, which was indeed sweaty too. ‘It’s my therapy cat. It’s for my anxiety. My disability cat.’

‘I don’t care if your leg has fallen off and your cat is carrying it, it’s not getting in my cab.’

The cat, in Beth’s arms, stretched his mouth wide in a yawn. Beth knew the cat was silently swearing at him. ‘But he’ll stay on my lap the whole time and it’s only a fifteen minute journey.’

‘No.’

‘I’ll pay you double the fare.’

‘Get in.’

The fifteen minute journey occurred in silence. The taxi tore through the tiny country lanes from the south of the island to the north. A fluffy bull, dangling from the rear view mirror, swung along to Coldplay. He’s trying to hang himself, thought Beth, having to put up with this mediocre droning. The cat sat happily on Beth’s lap. His left paw dangled over the edge of her leg and gently rested on the back seat. Beth smiled and whispered ‘rebel’ in her mind.

Beth paid the taxi driver but he drove off from the old farmhouse before she had time to ask him to wait. She kissed the top of the cat’s head and put him down on the driveway. Two chickens stuttered by in the background, the cat observed them casually while staying close to Beth’s legs, tail in the air, alert and wary.

A woman appeared in the garden to the side of the house, carrying a basket of washing. She was short, robust, with sparse spiky grey hair, wearing a blue shirt, jeans tucked into green wellies and a chunky cream cardigan. Beth would guess she was in her late fifties or early sixties.

‘Can I help you?’ Her voice was blunt and it didn’t sound like she wanted to help at all. She walked towards Beth, washing basket still in her arms.

‘Hello, yes, I hope so. I’ve got a cat.’

The woman stared down at the cat, then slowly back up to Beth. ‘Yes, you have.’

‘Well, it’s not really my cat, I found it last night, and it needs a home. The hotel I was staying at gave me your address.’

‘Oh they did, did they.’

‘Yes.’ Beth watched the woman, the cat watched a rogue chicken streak across the drive. Beth felt she was hostage negotiating. ‘I was hoping you could give the cat a home, or you might know someone who can.’

‘Why didn’t you just leave the cat where it was to wander back from where it came?’

‘It was on the top of Beauport Bay cliffs.’

‘At night.’

‘Yes.’

The woman’s face remained impassive. ‘You don’t live here on Jersey then.’

‘No, I was staying at L’horizon hotel.’

‘Was?’

‘It was my last night last night.’

The woman shifted the basket of washing to rest on her right hip and sniffed. ‘What time is your flight?’

‘My flight?’

‘You said it was your last night, are you flying home today? Where is home to you?’

Beth felt herself tense up, where is home seemed a more philosophical than geographical question. ‘Oh, I, um, I’m from Wales, I haven’t booked my flight yet.’

‘I see.’

Aware she was stood soldier-like Beth tried to relax her stance by shifting more of her weight to her left side, she fiddled distractedly with the strap of her bag across her body.

‘What’s your cat’s name?’

‘I don’t know, and it’s not my cat.’

The cat rubbed against Beth’s legs.

‘What’s your name? Or do you not know that either?’

‘Beth.’ Beth found herself in automatic soldier stance again.

‘Well Beth, my name is Susan. Not Sue, or Suzy, or Sooze. Clear?’

‘Um, yes.’

Susan turned and marched off towards the house. Beth and the cat stood side by side watching her.

‘Well don’t just stand there waiting for a bloody written invitation, and bring your shadow too.’

She disappeared through the door and Beth hesitantly followed her in, her shadow padding behind her.

The kitchen was cluttered with crockery, books, and plants, an assault of colours vied for Beth’s attention. An aroma of moth balls, dusty libraries and Deep Heat challenged her nostrils. A large hefty wooden table was in the centre of the room with various sizes of crocheted coasters and placemats of a kaleidoscope of colours scattered on it. Susan was filling a kettle by the cooker.

‘You can have tea from the pot with me or a coffee, only instant coffee though, I have no time to mess about with those silly plunger things.’

‘Instant coffee is fine, thanks.’

The kettle boiled, Susan clattered about with a teapot. ‘Sit down then.’

Beth sat on one of the wooden chairs, the cat jumped up on her lap, massaged her legs while he got comfortable then curled up.

‘And you think he’s not your cat?’

Beth smoothed his fur as he purred. ‘I can’t look after a cat.’

‘Nonsense.’ The teapot, wearing a green and yellow crocheted cosy, was plonked on the table, followed by a mug of coffee emblazoned with ‘I love Ibiza’, followed by a tin of malted milk biscuits.

‘Thank you.’ Beth glanced at her mug. She doubted that Susan had been to Ibiza.

Before she had chance to ask her, an elderly German Shepherd plodded into the room and over to Susan. Susan ruffled his head and smiled.

‘This is Jim. Jim, we have visitors.’

Beth was slightly taken aback by Susan’s smile, it transformed her face so much. She turned her head to the dog. ‘Hello Jim.’

Jim slowly walked to Beth and sniffed her leg and the cat. The cat opened his left eye and studied Jim’s large damp nose and inquisitive eyes. After a brief moment Jim turned and plodded back out of the room.

Susan delved into the biscuits and started to munch on one. ‘Do you like animals?’

‘Of course, I like them more than people.’ Beth looked up to meet Susan’s studying of her. ‘Sorry.’

‘Don’t be, animals are nicer than people, they don’t let you down or leave you.’ Susan pushed the biscuit tin towards Beth. ‘Don’t stand on ceremony.’

‘Thanks.’ Beth took a biscuit out and bit off half.

‘So if you leave your shadow here, what are you going to do next?’

Beth was glad she had a mouthful of biscuit to stall for an answer. She could hardly tell a complete stranger she would probably go throw herself of the cliff tonight. She shrugged. ‘I don’t know.’ Her shaky hands picked up her coffee and she was self consciously aware Susan had noticed this.

Susan slurped her tea. ‘Won’t anyone miss you?’

Beth’s hands gripped the mug handle tight. Had Susan read her mind? She stared into the abyss of coffee. ‘No.’

The following silence felt so deep to Beth, she had an urge to fill it. ‘I have no job, no family, no partner, no children, no friends, just a rented apartment full of dreams and regrets.’ Shocked at her honest revelation she shoved another half of a malted milk in her mouth to stop herself revealing anymore.

Susan nodded solemnly and slid the biscuit tin back towards herself, also taking another biscuit. ‘But now you have your shadow.’

Beth twitched a smile as she looked down at the sleeping cat, her eyes watered. She brushed off an escaped tear and desperately tried to swallow down the remainder of her biscuit without choking.

Susan swigged more tea and topped up her cup from the pot. ‘Do you have bags? A suitcase?’

‘Oh, yes, my suitcase is in storage at the hotel.’

Susan nodded. ‘We’ll go get it after lunch. You can stay in one of my spare rooms. It’s not fancy but it’s got a comfy bed, wallpaper, and a nice wardrobe.’

‘Oh, I couldn’t stay here.’

‘Why not? Are you a thief, a murderer or an arsonist?’

‘No.’

‘No I thought not, so you can stay. Until you decide what you and Shadow are going to do next.’ Susan nodded towards the cat. ‘He thinks you’re someone worth hanging around for, that’s good enough for me.’

‘But, I wouldn’t want to put you out.’

‘You won’t be, I’m not offering you the swanky hotel services you’ve been used to. A bed and board for you both in return for helping me look after the animals here in the kennels. Again, not a hotel, so you’ll eat what I cook for myself or cook and clean up after yourself if you don’t like my cooking.’

Beth realised she’d been holding her breath and exhaled deeply. ‘That’s really kind of you.’

‘Not being kind, I’m using you for cheap labour, my arthritis is playing up and you’ve come along at the right time.’

Beth looked down at Shadow on her lap, then back up to Susan. ‘Yes, I think I have.’

Margaret

Published November 19, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

For the first time ever, Margaret severed a head. Not just any head, the head of her husband. Her now ex-husband. She was surprised how easy it was, considering she hadn’t meant to decapitate him. Her upper arm strength and swing action had shocked both her and Eddie. His face, suspended in petrified disbelief, gawked up from the blood sodden rug. Margaret watched how the crimson fluid delicately shaded the peonies in the pattern. She sat in the armchair, breathing heavily, and dropped the axe to the floor with a dull thud. Sinking back into the tatty brown leather she allowed herself to smile. Which turned to laughter. Followed by docker swearing at the unresponsive head.

She jerked her leg out and kicked the headless torso. She laughed again. With her breathing more controlled she stood and rolled the body onto its back. She kicked it hard between the legs.

‘You won’t be forcing anyone now will you.’

Margaret kicked Eddie’s torso again, with more force, but it was like kicking a sandbag. She stared at the lump of a husband and then sat back down, closed her eyes, and exhaled deeply, using the breathing techniques she’d learnt in counselling sessions. She could hear her therapist Lynne telling her to inhale for five then exhale for eight.

She obeyed Lynne’s voice. She felt calm. She thought back to meeting Lynne, and that timid frightened wren that she once was, scared of everything and Eddie, especially Eddie. Margaret didn’t think she’d be able to tell anyone about what Eddie did to her but she did and Lynne gave her tools to make her stronger. To rebuild herself.

Eddie had been such a charmer when Margaret had met him at the butchers counter when she was sixteen. He was handsome, funny, popular, and twenty-two, he could have had the pick of the village but he chose her. She felt so lucky. She would have done anything to keep him, and she did. Anything he wanted, he got, whether Margaret wanted it or not. Usually not.

Margaret had thought about ending her life many times to escape, a desperate solution for a desperate woman. Her daughter Lucy had made her think of other options. She couldn’t leave her with him, she’d already seen the way he was starting to look at her. She knew that as her own figure became less appealing Lucy was blossoming, and that’s what scared her the most, made her want to fight back, escape from her tormentor who was once her hero.

Life hadn’t changed overnight. Like mould it had started as small spores sparsely spaced and had spread slowly until she found it too hard to breathe. The young virile heartthrob evolved into an overweight lazy bully, the bright optimistic butterfly became cocooned. One-off demeaning comments developed into daily vitriol, the odd slap matured into routine beatings.

Margaret opened her eyes. She stared at the mess in front of her and glanced at the clock. It would be a few hours before Lucy came home from school. Plenty of time to clean up, she wasn’t going to risk jail for him. He wasn’t worth it. She’d wasted too many years on him already.

She’d pack a suitcase with his favourite clothes and passport and bury them in the garden with him. He used to tell anyone down the pub that she was a useless wife and he was going to leave her, well, now he had. A jolt of euphoric relief pulsed through her, she stood up and made her way to the garage to locate the spade, stamping on Eddie’s genitals on the way past.

‘No more Eddie, no more.’

Brexmeat

Published September 17, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

Tony scraped up scraps of cartilage and bones that the machine had spat out. He tossed them into the incinerator while whistling ‘Another One Bites the Dust’. The stench didn’t bother him, he’d been a butcher before being imprisoned, humans smelled the same as animals to him. Ben didn’t have the same stomach as Tony, and even though he wore a face mask it was a struggle to not gag constantly.

Tony wiped his chunky calloused hands on his already bloodstained apron. ‘C’mon lad, time for a brew.’

Ben didn’t know if he could keep a cup of tea inside him, but he wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to get off the factory floor. He peeled his sweaty gloves off, left them on the table, and followed Tony into the small staffroom.

Tony already had the kettle switched on and was putting sugar in his mug. ‘Sugar?’

‘No thanks.’ Ben sat down on one of the blue plastic chairs and took his face mask off.

Tony smiled. ‘You’ll get used to it.’ He placed the mugs on the table and sat opposite Ben. ‘What you in for? Must be bad to be working production.’

‘Cyber fraud.’

Tony laughed. ‘What a waste. You’ve thrown your life away for hacking?’

‘I only moved money from one account to another, they got it all back, I’ll be out soon when I’m up for parole.’

Tony belly laughed again. ‘If you’re here in production parole isn’t on the cards for you.’

‘I don’t understand?’

‘Prisoners on the production line are never leaving here. Life means life here.’

‘But I didn’t get life, I got four years, so I’ll be out in two.’

‘So naïve. How old are you?’

‘Twenty-two.’

Tony stopped smiling and shook his head. ‘You don’t have any family, do you?’

‘No, how do you know that?’

‘Because if you’re not here on production because you’re a lifer it’s because you don’t have family. No one to miss you or report you when you don’t get out.’

Ben stared down at the table, trying not to cry or pass out.

‘Lots of people here are the alone.’ Tony slurped some of his tea. ‘Not usually youngsters like you though.’

‘But I got a sentence, in a court, they can’t keep me here.’

‘They can do what want, they’re the government.’

‘People need to know this.’

‘People need to not know this, that’s why none of us on production will ever get out or have contact with anyone outside.’

‘I can’t stay here forever.’

‘You don’t have a choice. Unless you want to kill yourself, that’s your only choice. But then you’d end up in a sausage or a pie like the refugees and illegals.’

‘Surely that’s better than butchering and cooking people every day.’

Tony shrugged. ‘Depends on your view. Roof over my head, food in my belly, library full of books, gym to work out in. Throats to slit every day. I got a better life in here than I did outside.’

‘Doesn’t it make you sick? Killing innocent people? And eating them? Sending them out to be eaten by the public?’

Tony laughed and finished his tea. ‘Lad, no one is innocent in life, all have sin. I used to butcher animals for a living, human carcasses are no different. I’m in here for life, for murder. I killed my wife for sleeping around. I was happy killing the woman I loved most in the world, killing people I don’t know is a cinch.’

Ben stared at Tony, frightened to ask him anymore.

‘And eating them? You eat the flesh of a cow or pig, there’s no difference with a human. Flesh is flesh. You’re not a veggie are you?’

‘No.’

‘Well there you go then.’

‘The government should tell the people what they’re doing.’

‘Too many snowflakes like you would have a meltdown. It’s better if they don’t know.’

‘It’s dishonest, it’s wrong.’

‘Says you, banged up for stealing.’

‘I was stealing from companies who could afford it.’

‘Still deception however you want to dress it up. How would you solve the problem? Millions of hungry people on our island with not enough food to feed everyone, no help from the EU as we stuck two fingers up to them, thousands of illegals and refugees turning up here trying to take our depleted food from us.’

‘I don’t know. But I know this is wrong.’

Tony shrugged. ‘Embrace it or die. Going through the motions will drive you mad if you don’t believe it’s for the greater cause. I’ve seen many that breakdown. A few months ago a lad about your age threw himself in the furnace. Jerry. What a waste. Burnt to a crisp like pork crackling. He had a lot of meat on him, would have fed a good many people. Selfish really.’

‘I guess he wasn’t thinking straight.’

‘Well if you ever feel like throwing yourself in the furnace, don’t. Give me the heads up and I’ll make it quick for you, neat slit to the throat. Might even make sure I get a product you end up in.’

Ben pushed his tea away from him, the urge to vomit was swelling.

An alarm rang out for a short burst making Ben flinch and a red light flashed over one of the double doors on the production floor.

‘Fresh meat.’ Tony stood up. ‘You been shown how to slit a throat properly?’

The colour drained away from Ben’s face. ‘No.’

‘Time for me to teach you then.’ Tony smiled and walked out the room.

Ben put his mask over his mouth and nose, took a deep breath, and slowly followed.

Tony picked up a six-inch knife from the wall rack. ‘This is the best knife. Sharp like a shark, cuts through flesh like a hot knife through butter.’

They walked towards the doors, silent now but red light still flashing.

‘Now you can watch me do one, then you can have a go.’

‘I don’t want to, can’t you do it all?’

‘I could, but you need to be able to do it. If you can’t do the whole job then that choice of sausage or worker will be taken away from you.’Tony put his hand on the door handle. ‘Don’t look into their eyes, it’ll make it harder for you.’ He opened the door and muffled shouts and cries began immediately.

Inside the white sterile room were ten naked people of male and female assortment bound securely by ropes, gagged and sat on the floor. Ages varied from twenty to sixty. All were shaking and wide eyed. Tony stepped into the room, followed by Ben who was struggling to pull his gloves on to his tremoring hands.

‘Start anywhere you like, some choose youngest to oldest or vice versa, I just work my way around the room.’ Tony seemed oblivious to the muffled cries and screams.

Ben automatically looked into sets of eyes as he scanned the room. He could feel himself hyperventilating and wished he would just pass out.

Tony approached the first livestock. A man in his forties, dark skinned, average build, trying to plead through his gag. Tony grabbed his hair and held him firmly upright. ‘You need to hold them still, it’s quicker for them that way.’ He placed the knife at the left side of the terrified man’s throat. ‘Start right over here and go in deep and slice across. The deeper you go the quicker it’ll be over for them. Don’t go doing stupid little papercuts coz you haven’t got the balls; it’ll make it worse for them and you.’ Tony sliced in one quick movement. Blood spurted out and then flowed down the naked man’s chest. The man’s throat gargled, his eyes grew wider, then he was motionless.

The remaining nine people screamed and cried from behind their gags.

Even with the mask over his nose Ben could smell faeces and urine as well as the iron aroma of the blood. It took all his focus not to vomit.

Tony turned and handed the knife to Ben. ‘You’re up. Better do one before you hit the deck.’

Ben took the knife reluctantly, his hands trembled more, and he felt so hot and sticky. Number two of the livestock was a pale Eastern European looking woman in her twenties. She was silent and staring at Ben with frozen terror. He put the knife tentatively to her throat, she pushed back against the wall and started to scream. Ben held her by her hair and gripped the knife with more force.

Ben’s mouth was dry, his tongue felt paralysed in its arid cave, he could barely whisper. ‘I’m sorry.’

Eurovision. My Top Three.

Published May 11, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

1. Iceland. Hatati, Hatrid mun sigra.
Mattius has the perfectly chiselled features of an angel, with the voice of a hellhound chewing razor blades. If the Kurgan from Highlander was singing, this is what he’d sound like. I love this but I think this song is a Marmite song, love it or hate it but no bland on the fence opinion. If you don’t like a shouty vocal the song is available to download as the karaoke version, just the music and Klemens singing the higher chorus. Their stage outfits are outrageously fabulous. Cyber punk bondage. This has outraged a few people, which quite frankly is ridiculous, how can you be outraged by the human body in wipe clean PVC. I think the staging would work better with more nudity myself!

2. Azerbaijan. Chingiz, Truth.
This is a catchy pop tune that stays in my head long after hearing it, in a good way. Great vocals, and a great video (even though I’m not judging it on that). It makes me shimmy (in private) and I’m now often singing part of the chorus ‘just shut up about it’ in my head when people annoy me. That’s quite a lot.

3. Norway. Keiino, Spirit in the Sky.
The three singers’ voices compliment each other well. When I sing and dance the routine myself I play all three roles, and while I love being Alexandra and Tom it’s when I’m singing and dancing to Fred’s bits that I’m my most bouncy. It’s fun, uplifting, and full of energy. Keiino performing it that is, not me.

Other songs I like that didn’t quite make my top three are San Marino, Switzerland, Australia, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia, and Spain. But they made it to my top ten. Bring on Eurovision!

Mine

Published April 30, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

You’re my special someone ‘til the end of time,
My gin and tonic to my splash of lime.
You’re my small umbrella in my exotic cocktail,
My refreshing breeze propelling my sail.
You’re my reason to wake with a smile on my face,
My obedient pet to hug and embrace.
You’re my sparkling star in the darkest of night,
My shining beacon and my guiding light.
You’re my positive thought snuggling in my head,
My freshly washed sheets straddling across my bed.
You’re my motivation for living life true,
My excitement for starting over anew.
You’re my obsession, possession, lover for life,
My soul companion during the afterlife.
You’re my morning coffee, that shot of caffeine,
My wonderful servant, and I am your Queen.

Suggestions for my Doctor’s surgery suggestion box

Published February 17, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

Sat waiting for my diabetic review at the doctors, and waiting, and waiting, I spot their suggestion box. So after nearly an hour past my appointment time I thought I’d amuse myself. The following is what will greet the practice manager when she opens the suggestion box.

1. The waiting room needs to be renamed ‘The Executive Lounge’ for starters. Calling it the waiting room is setting the scene for misery and gloom and low expectations. It would be more uplifting to be told ‘take a seat in the executive lounge’ when you check in.

2. When using the self-service check in system it can leave an anxious patient anxious when they sit down, wondering if they completed all the stages correctly. I suggest the machine be programmed with a fanfare to be played loudly if completed correctly. Maybe a burst of confetti for the 100th correct user.

3. The waiting room/executive lounge can get quite tedious when waiting for any length of time. Even though your information slides are informative they are mind numbingly boring on repeat for an hour. I realise a TV licence is an extravagant expense, and fraught with its own problems (I might want to watch This Morning, another patient might prefer Homes Under the Hammer) so how about hiring out mini DVD players with headphones for a small fee. You could profit from patients’ boredom and patients would be less cranky if kept waiting. If not DVD players, then how about just headphones for hire with a selection of music. Patients could have their own little silent discos or classical calm. Music therapy. The headphones could vibrate when the patient is called through, but if I’m jiggling to a bouncy track I would leave them on while sashaying along the corridor.

4. Heated flooring in the nurse’s rooms would be lovely. When you have to take your shoes and socks off for diabetic foot testing it can be a bit chilly in winter. This isn’t a diva request, I have dainty, delicate, size 9, diabetic feet. If this is too much expense a fluffy bath mat could be a substitute.

5. Waiting in the executive lounge would be improved with food and drink. I would like coffee but some of the other patients I saw I wouldn’t trust with a hot beverage, so I think you’d have to play it safe with a water cooler. Food wise it would have to be something healthy too, yawn, so maybe fruit and nuts. Maybe just fruit as too many people have nut allergies these days. Actually, scrap this suggestion as an apple and a glass of water sounds too much like a minimalist still life set up.

6. Thinking of painting, a little bit of art therapy in the executive lounge would be good while people wait. But again, having seen a lot of the other patients I wouldn’t trust them with crayons let alone squidgy paint.

7. Lava lamps. Calming and therapeutic. I suggest you have a plethora of lava lamps placed around the executive lounge. The other surgery in town has a fish tank which is calming to watch, except when children tap on the glass, that increases anxiety, of the fish and myself. Thus, lava lamps would be a good distraction for anxious patients, inquisitive children, and people who like watching blobs bob up and down.

I hope these suggestions help.