It was a long wait. But then we had been warned that it would be. “I’ll see you at the end of surgery this morning," the Doc had said. “Bring books – it might be a long wait.”
I could have stayed at home and let Mr B go off for his doctor’s appointment without me but I decided to tag along. The thing is, I’ve somehow, ever since I retired, started
almost to enjoy The Waiting Game.
I used to be really bad at it. Almost as bad as I am at Chinese Chequers when up against Team Baldwin. Few things irritated
me more than being asked to stand in a queue, or waste precious time twiddling my fingers and thumbs waiting for someone to attend to my needs. I couldn’t bear that notion of time passing without me making a mark of some kind on each and every minute.
Waiting – for anything – was not good for my health.
Since retirement, a major change has come over me. I have become a class player at The Waiting
Game. Instead of wailing over the time I would waste if I accompanied Mr B this morning, I was already stowing my e-reader into my capacious handbag and looking forward to heading into another adventure with Jack Reacher, creation of author Lee Child.
(I have very little in common with Jack Reacher, except that he, like me, is addicted to coffee. Most of the books I have read starring Mr Reacher begin with him sitting in a diner somewhere, drinking coffee and waiting for adventure to find him. It always
Mr B bought me my e-reader a couple of years ago. My son-in-law loaded 1956 books onto it for me. I reckon it will take me the rest of my life to read them
all, given that I also like to read plenty of good, old-fashioned books made out of paper and print. Sometimes I forget my e-reader for a month at a time and then Mr B gets all cross and says he doesn’t know why he bought it for me in the first
place. When this happens I have to remember when and where I last used it. Then, once found, it will almost certainly have a flat battery so I will have to charge it up using my mobile phone charger. Only then can I scroll through the 1932 books I still
have to read to make my choice. Still it keeps Mr B happy; he smiles proudly when he sees me with the e-reader and says what a good buy it was. It doesn't take much to please him, really...
Sitting in the doctor’s waiting room today, I paused in my vicarious adventure with Jack to listen in on a few conversations. This is what writers (whether of books or blogs) are supposed to do, as part of their search
for new material. They make notes in reporter-style notebooks which they keep in their pockets. I, too, have a note-book in my bag. Printed on the front, below a kind of star formation, there is an inscription which reads: “Marine Gardens Touring Club
Bowls Tour. Isle of Wight. 2012.” I flick through the pages: there are some hurriedly pencilled notes about future dates to meet up with friends, a couple of unreadable email addresses. No finely observed conversations have been recorded therein.
I keep my ears open but nobody is saying much at all. People don’t, do they, in a doctor’s waiting room? It’s worse than a train or a bus. The only voice
raised is that of a very pregnant mother whose young son has ignored her instruction to stay put and has headed off outside. She hauls him inside by the scruff of his coat. I go back to Jack Reacher.
We are almost the last people left in the waiting room. Finally Mr B’s name flashes up on the big screen ordering him along to Room 2. I sit and wait. I think of my mother and the rhyme she used to
tell us: “Patience is a virtue, Possess it if you can. Seldom found in women. Never found in men.”
She would have been proud of me. It’s
taken me most of my life to date but I think I’ve finally cracked The Waiting Game...