As the popular song has it. And full of wonder it must be to be sure. You see, for the next two weeks I and my humble wares become the infallible, guaranteed, absolute and only panacea for all ills. After all it's nearly Christmas, so we are transformed for a brief interval into a branch of the Elf Service and gifted healing powers normally reserved for song and fable. Well at least so it holds in the popular imagination.
The only problem is, unlike the jolly old man in red (courtesy of an early 20th Century Coca-Cola ad campaign apparently) we have to treat with all comers, both the "naughty" and "nice". A great many of both sorts crossed the Jesterly threshhold yesterday coughing, clutching sore throats or, more concerningly, grey cardboad vomit bowl "boaters". They all had some form of viral illness and fully expected I'd be in a position to cure it for them on the spot, or at least come up with an antibiotic to do it inside 48 hours so they can be ready for the fortnight long party that has become the "traditional" Ambridge Christmas we've all come to know and loathe... er... love.
And this particular year that's a hard contention to refute. After all viruses are now curable aren't they. There's that magical Tamiflu we've seen being dished out in bucketfulls for the swine flu, so if it's good for that how much the better will it do for a sore throat?
Well Mrs A, since you ask, not much. Indeed I'd not be allowed to prescribe it for Tyrone just now. You see, although he was "terribly ill" half a hour ago, he's now whirling round the consulting room like the Tazmanian Devil and looking even better than I feel. So no, I don't think his bit of a cough was the beginnings of flu, or pleurisy, or pneumonia... and no I don't think he needs Tamiflu, or Antibiotics, or fairydust. In fact I'm pretty sure he'll be fine for Christmas even if you leave him outdoors all day everyday till the big one itself.
And despite having wrapped himself in the paper bedroll like a demonically possessed Andrex puppy Tyrone was not the worst behaved of my little visitors yesterday afternoon. Nor the least ill.
Now it's true there are key events on the calendar that distort normal behaviour patterns and Christmas and New year are amongst the biggest. No-body is allowed to be ill for Christmas. And life is supposed to fantastically re-invent itself at New Year as we all resolve to do more of what we ought and less / none of what we didn't ought. The burden of this latter expectation can be overwhelming and it's no surprise that our colleagues in A&E and Mental Health services dread New Year as those so overhwelmed are bowled over by the tidal wave of their own expectations and driven to the edge of self destruction thereby.
I wonder, has it always been thus? Were the Druids besieged at Stonehenge by long lines of tartan clad celts on the eve of every solstice and equinox looking for a cure for that "bit of a cough" or that "Pilum head sticking out of my chest" before the drunken revels could begin in earnest? I'm guessing so, and if I'm right I'm also slightly comforted by the thought in a way that's rather hard to describe.