Now that I am feeling less nauseous, I’m trying to get through the jobs that I’ve been putting off for months. These range from emptying the waste paper baskets and relieving them of old banana skins, to making sure I’m up to date with my pension contributions.

Neither of these activities have much to offer when it comes to any form of gratification, be it long term or instant, so I thought I’d start with a spot of furniture rearrangement. I moved my desk to the other side of the room where it would sit much better and would not overwhelm the viewer with its arrangement of dead computers that are so long in the tooth they are no longer supported. Then I moved it back again and called James, who is the IT support man.

I called James, not because I wanted him to rationalise the computers, but to restore the wi-fi to a working system. Since I moved the desk across the room and moved it back again, the wi-fi didn’t work. Then I had a hoover round and put all the bits that had dropped of the desk during the move, in a drawer for future repair.

There was no putting it off. I called the National Insurance support line to get my eighteen digit code number, that I would need in order to make the National Insurance contributions that I needed to pay to get the best value out of my state pension. I must say that I felt pretty pleased with myself for managing to pass the identity authentication test. The National Insurance helpline was experiencing a higher than average number of calls but someone would be with me as soon as possible.

Then I clamped the phone between ear and shoulder and set about going through the pile of papers that had accumulated during various surgical and medical procedures, that needed filing. Then I got bored and threw them away so that no one would have ever known that I’d just emptied that wastepaper basket. Then I sat down and waited. I put the phone on speaker and a booming voice, on repeat, told me that they would be with me shortly. I could not remember how to turn the volume down but went with it and stayed on hold. I stayed on hold for so long I began to wonder if this was really a well-oiled scam masquerading as a government department. An hour elapsed so I knew it definitely was a government department. I waited a bit longer and then the fully charged battery on my phone went dead and I got cut off.

Charged up and ready for action I called the NHS, published number, for the consultant I’ve found who knows about radiotherapy and skin without pigment. The number didn’t work. I called his private PA who gave me his NHS PA’s number that was the number for another private clinic. They gave me the right number.

The NHS voice activated call handling service sounded like Fenella Fielding and didn’t like my early attempts at saying the word “operator”. I changed tone. It liked my impersonation of Fenella, and put me through to an “operator”. He put me through to a messaging service. There was no one to answer the call because of staff shortages and messages were not always monitored. I reverted to my normal speaking voice and left a message anyway. His PA called back and gave me the number for his private PA, whose number I already had.

The BF FaceTimed for a chat. I bore my teeth at her and spouted venom. She made sensible suggestions, then I bit her head off and told her I was too busy to chat.

Written: Monday 13th February 2023