Not long before Christmas and for the first time since returning to Cullingworth, I received a telephone call from my doctor. Or rather from an anonymous person employed by said doctor for the purpose of doing such onerous tasks as ringing up patients.
Now as it happened I was out of the house at the time since the doctor (or the doctor's employee) had, of course, forgotten that many of his patients do in fact work for a living and, even where they do not, are not wont to hover over the telephone in anticipation of such a rare event as a call from a medical advisor or indeed a medical advisor's representative.
However, another person was available to take the call. Such a blessing since the matter was of significance and importance. After negotiating around the usual data protection objections so beloved of pompous organisations like the NHS, the important matter of enquiry that was the subject of the telephone call became clear.
The doctor wanted to know whether I was a smoker.
Not in connection with any ongoing medical relationship - my most recent medical encounter had finished earlier in the year. It appears that the surgery, from mere curiosity, wished to know whether or not I smoke. I suppose I should be grateful that, had I admitted to such a great sin, help would be on hand - nay forced upon me in that ever so delightful, rather passive-aggressive manner of the medical profession. The doctor would earn a little extra cash by enrolling another person onto "smoking cessation" - the targets are input targets rather than outcome targets - and the righteous would have claimed another success in their temperance campaign.
So it is with great sadness that I say:
Dear Doctors, Smoking Cessation Nurses, anti-smoking fussbuckets and general health busybodies, it really is absolutely none of you business whether or not I smoke. Unless of course I choose to make it so by asking for your help or advice.
Is that clear enough?