Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lullaby: making Britain happy and healthy.

Ruby and Jim

I just need something to take the edge off.

The doctor says ‘hello’ without looking up. Late thirties, short dark bobbed hair, probably was reasonably attractive when she was in her teens and still trying. Now this Sysifus task of healing a work-less, life-less, and restraint-less clientele has beaten ‘trying’ out of her.

I say ‘hi’, and sit in the uncomfortable blue chair directly next to her desk.

She looks up when she realises I am not about to volunteer any information.

‘How can I help?’ she says in the exactly the same way she might say its cloudy and overcast outside.

I’ve already rehearsed my response to this, already been through this entire scenario, just to make sure, just to make sure I get exactly what I want from this. I just need to say 5 words. 5 words, which will guarantee I get what I need to take the edge off.

“I think I need help”, I say and I lower my head and slump with a big sigh in the chair, as if just saying these words is an enormous effort for me, a truth that I have only now been able to reveal for the very first time. Which it is not.

“Okay,” she says, “What’s the problem?”

I can sense the clock ticking in her head, has to, she only gets 7 minutes per patient before calling for the next one, otherwise they be backing up in the waiting room like Tokyo commuters on the zoom tubes at 6pm.

I go for it, exactly as rehearsed, “I feel anxious all the time,” I say, “I have a tightness in my chest whenever I go outdoors.” So far so good.

She nods in unison with each statement and begins to type away on her wireless keypad, symbols bounce up on the flat in front of her but I can’t make out what they mean; probably some hypocratic secret code.

“I’m unable to sleep at night, and then unable to stay awake during the day,”

“Okay, are you experiencing any eating disorder?”

“Yes,” I say, “Yes I am.”

“Anything else?” She asks finally turning away from the flat to look me in the eye.

“Yes,” I say, “I’ve had a headache constantly for about a month.”

“A month?” she asks automatically attempting to qualify my statement before she types in on the hieroglyphic puzzle game.

“Yes,” I confirm. “A month, oh and I’ve had some dark thoughts.”

“Self harming?” she asks in the exactly the same way she might ask if I want fries with that.

I take a considered deep breath, “Not exactly, I just sometimes think that if I had an off switch I’d push it.”

She types some more and I am left for 30 seconds of my 7 minutes in silence, so I just gaze at the pictures on the wall opposite her. Sunny faced people, a young woman hugging a golden haired boy no older than 12, an elderly couple and handsome man who’s slight greying at the temples and crows feet at his eyes betrays his youthful appearance. I wonder if they are successfully treated patients of the Doctor here, or her family perhaps.

“Well,” the Doctor says finally, “I think you should try Lullaby.”

No, they are just stock shots from a smiling faces advertising brochure. And judging by the quality, they’ve been torn directly from the perfect bounded spin with no regarding for the appropriate licensing agreement.

“Lullaby.” I repeat, “Really?”

“Yes, Lullaby. You’re clearly suffering from depression and I feel the best form of remedy will be Lullaby every evening just after twilight.”

I just need something to take the edge off you see…

I wasn’t expecting her to go for Lullaby; I expected a tub of chemicals ending in ‘hydrobromide’ or something.

Yes, I’ve heard some very good things about Lullaby, but then again I’ve heard some very bad things about Lullaby.

“Aren’t there side effects with Lullaby?” I ask like a captain of consumer affairs.

“Well yes, but then all forms of proscribed treatment will have side effects,”

“A friend of a friend told me that their friend got lost to Lullaby”

The doctor pushes back slightly in her chair and spins round to face me head on. She smiles a simple sympathetic smile, like you do when a child says something ridiculous.

“In regard to the notion that you can get lost to Lullaby, well, I can assure you that it’s just myth. Lullaby is by far and away the safest treatment currently available on the NHS, or indeed any private healthcare. A course of Lullaby over the next 14 days will ease your anxiety, aid your bodies need for healthy normal sleep and most importantly give you perspective on your own life by showing you other lives.”

It sounds convincing, however…

“Are you sure you can’t get lost to Lullaby?”

The Doctor does something complete unexpected and I suspect completely unprofessional; she takes my hands in hers and gentle pats them.

I feel a confusing mixture of shock and reassurance.

“As I said before,” she says very softly, very calmly, “all forms of proscribed treatment will have side effects, however these stories of people becoming confused and lost within Lullaby is just nonsense”.

I agree to take Lullaby.

She fills out the prescription and explains that I will need to take this to the nearest municipal library to collect my small auto-disposable booklet of soothing songs. She also explains that if I am unable to find a responsible and reasonably literate adult to sing Lullaby to me one can be arranged.

The government it appears are keen to push Lullaby as hard as possible, all part of their drive they say to make Britain healthy and happy.

So, that evening I ask my friend Ruby to come round to my one bedroom flat above the town’s only unisex hairdresser and sing Lullaby to me.

After supper, and as the last of the twilight gives way to darkness I lay on the sofa with my head in her lap. She gently strokes my hair as she sings the first Lullaby to me.

It is the most beautiful and serene Lullaby I have ever heard…


Rowan said...

:) I guess that's all I would really need huh? Screw the cocktail of drugs they've got me on, I just need Lullaby. Who'd a thunk?

joanna said...

Hmmmmm...I sing to my kids every night - does that mean they won't wind up with mental health problems later in life, or will they be ten times worse??

Herge Smith said...

They share your DNA - there's a slim chance they too will be crazed.

Rowan - sadly Lullaby has as many downs as it does ups. Stick to chemical happiness.