It’s amazing how the passage of time changes what you love and hate. When I was a twelve year old, I used to hate cauliflower cheese, butter and coffee, claiming that even being in the same room as any of these products would cause me to throw up. And to be fair, the first three times I drank coffee, I was true to my word. The dinner ladies at Buckley County Primary School didn’t care too much for my pleas of “I told you so” but it was some small comfort to me as I bent double, I can tell you.
Of course, I loved Whizzer & Chips comic book, potato waffles, getting anything in the post and playing heavily pixellated games on the ZX Spectrum. Above all, I loved Glynis Barber. Dempsey & Makepeace probably doesn’t mean much to most Americans on here, but it played a small formative role in my upbringing, and at least allowed me to get over the devastation caused by the realisation that I was never going to spend the rest of my life with Agnetha from Abba.
Everything changes. I now consume more butter than the entirety of Venezuela, and you shouldn’t even bother to talk to me before I’ve put some coffee into my bloodstream. I don’t read Whizzer & Chips, admittedly, although that has more to do with the fact that the title closed down in 1990 than a loss of faith with Shiner and Mustapha Million.
One thing that hasn’t changed is my love of getting stuff in the post. I’m supposed to say it’s the mail these days, but there’s more chance of me saying aloo-minn-umm than denying my love of the postie and her sack of many delights. Perhaps most people think of the deliverer of their letters as a man, but ours was a nice woman who used to give me and Little Sis a 50p coin each every so often. Inevitably, we used to look forward to the arrival of the daily delivery.
Even in recent years my childish excitement with the familiar sound of envelopes hitting the floor under the door (don’t give me any of that mailbox rubbish, please) hasn’t lessened. Sure, there were plenty of bills, but there was always the chance that a package would arrive with untold treasures inside. In reality, it was usually the offer of a new credit card with free balance transfers from HSBC, but you just never knew.
Until I came to America, that is. Despite not having built up 30 or so years of inadvisedly signing up to mailing lists, I get more junk here than I ever got in the UK. As well as credit card offers, I’ve had catalog
ues, loan opportunities, and even the chance to get a special rate subscription to Playboy. That went down well with The Special One, I can tell you.
But I don’t mind the junk so much. What really upsets me is the constant barrage of medical bills I seem to get.
Now, there are two things you need to know here. Firstly, I’ve got good medical insurance through work. Secondly, I’ve been to the doctors twice in the last twelve months. I’ve spent no more than 40 collective minutes in the building. So why do I get a barrage of bills, receipts and inexplicable letters from companies I’ve never heard of, claiming that I owe them for a whole series of acronyms like a GGT, LD or an HFP? I think they must charge by the letter, given that an INTRPT seems to cost a hell of a lot more than a ‘routine’ BCBS.
Whatever happened to the happy days of walking into an NHS clinic and walking out with nothing more than a prescription and a slight limp?
Next time I go to the doctors, I’m going to demand a glossary of terms. And I won’t even think about going to the bathroom, for fear that I’ll get an invoice from Toilet Diagnostics of New York® six weeks later.
I’d probably leave The Special One to explain that one to the insurance company, to be honest…