I am away from home and have very slightly hurt my ankle. A friend has recommended an ankle specialist, which seems to me to be quite an unusual thing in which to specialise.
“And what do you know about?” a conversation might begin.
“Ankles,” you’d have to say.
I’m not sure where the conversation really goes from there. At least if you specialise in heads, you can move on to shoulders, knees and toes.
There are a few of us sitting here in reception, awaiting an audience with the ankle king. There’s a picture of him on the wall, smiling and laying a reassuring hand over a rubber ankle.
Suddenly, there is movement.
A door to one side opens and out walks the ankle doctor, guiding a man out of his office.
“Well, I’m just so delighted that you’re feeling so good!” he says, loudly and cheerfully, and the relief in the room is palpable.
He’s cured that man! Cured him! They must’ve been carefully working on those ankles for ages and at last all’s come good!
“Really great!” he says, again, and he shakes the man’s hand and beams out at the room, like he’s a celebrity having his picture taken with a competition winner for the local paper.
“Pamela will take care of you now,” he tells the man, who sidles out of the room to pay, already feeling around in his pocket for his wallet.
Happy, excited, the rest of us each get ready to stand, and then I suppose we all remember that our ankles hurt a bit and we stay sitting down.
“Mr Morrison?” says the ankle doctor.
Mr Morrison is so lucky! He is the chosen one! He gets up and slowly follows the ankle doctor into his small room.
When the door has closed, I sniff and look around at the other people here. Usually, in a sort of doctor’s surgery, you’d try to guess what was wrong with all the other people.
“Mainly ankles,” I think to myself, robbed of that game.
I pick up the Reader’s Digest and read a very interesting story about Su Pollard being bothered by an amorous horse.
“OK!” says the doctor, 10 minutes later, walking back into the room. “Wonderful!”
And then Mr Morrison appears.
“I’m delighted to see you making such good progress!” says the doctor, the life and soul of the party, positively beaming.
Oh, this guy is good!
“Pamela will take care of you now,” he says, pointing Mr Morrison the way to the payment counter. Well, my friend was right to recommend him. And if I’m next…
“So… Mr Wallace?”
I am! I raise my hand then follow him into his magical ankle booth.
I don’t limp or hobble because it’s not that bad, and I walk into what turns out to be quite a standard office. I don’t know what I’d been expecting. A stall selling ankle bracelets, maybe. Sometimes doctors have pictures up of little cartoon medical characters for kids, don’t they? But not here. I don’t think it would hurt anyone to invent Frankle The Ankle.
“Sit down,” says the doctor, not looking at me, now a little gruff. Hey – what gives? Where’s that fun guy gone? “Your ankle?”
I let him see my ankle and he looks at it a bit and then moves it round. He decides I might need to rest my ankle. I feel like I’ve let him down. No wonder he’s all grumpy with me. I feel like an abused partner, blaming myself for his moods. It must be my fault.
But as we get back to the waiting room, his entire demeanour changes.
“Well, I am so pleased we are getting you back on your feet!” he says, and I’m delighted that friendly guy is back. He’s smiling broadly, like we’ve been working on this project together for years and that finally it’s…
Hang on! Just like Mr Morrison and the other fella!
“Really good,” he says, shaking my hand with great warmth, and what am I supposed to say in reply? So I just smile and say “Thank you” and then look at the people in the waiting room. Which is when I realise… this is all for show! This is propaganda! He’s like one of those faith healers or mad pastors, pretending he’s healed me to convince the flock! This is like a cult! An ankle cult! An… ank-ult.
“Pamela will look after you now,” he says, pointing me towards the woman I’m going to have to pay £75 to just to be told I need to rest my ankle! Surely if I need to rest my ankle, he should be walking over to Pamela!
But he’s already moved on to the next member of the congregation.
I feel used. I’m just a couple of ankles to that guy. A couple of ankles carrying a wallet around.
So I make a big show of hobbling out the room and grimacing a lot.
Only one man spots this. But it is worth it.
There's somebody unexpected at the door
Andy Midwinter heard a knock at the door the other day, and was very surprised indeed to see that some of his new bathroom had arrived early.
Just let that sink in.
The robots are coming to take over the world
Joey Izzy was wandering around France and became increasingly paranoid that he was being followed.
And then he saw this robot pop out of the ground next to a church.
I’ve just realised this week’s photos look exactly the same.