HEALTH & WELLBEiNG: ‘You are in queue position, #X, … over a barrel.’

Dr Satan’s Robots, apparently. Staffing call centres world (or galaxy?) wide.

Psychological torture in the everyday, an NHS experience (or three!).

Several times in recent weeks I’ve been in GP Practices, or Hospitals. Although the two recent GP visits are the later experiences, I’ll start with them.

For me, our GP waiting room is a kind of ante-chamber to Hell. The radio station they have playing in the background – coupled with the Covid-19 related spacing of chairs, and the concurrent demise of communal reading matter (something long associated with visits to the doc’s; Woman’s World, Hello!, issues of Giles!?) – is so oppressively and moronically mainstream, and inanely conformist.

It feels like being in a dictatorship of the mind. The Tories have annexed the Sudetenland of independent critical thought, by fostering a plebeian culture of bland mindless consumerism. A singularly soulless state. When I see or hear lockstep unison dance routines in trash online and TV culture, it makes me think of modern ‘Brits’ as a breed of goose-stepping turkeys, marching to their own holocaust.

And several of the elderly folk in the room are tapping their toes!? As if it were some form of harmless music. A nice sound!? Or even more outlandishly, an art, or craft, designed, perhaps, to uplift and expand, or at least beautify the immediate surroundings. But wait, this is in fact the sonic wallpaper to billions of cellular prisons, made with computers, to formulae dictated by returns on investment, designed to control, crush and enslave, not to enlighten or liberate.

The Godawful radio station polluting the GP’s airwaves.

Airheaded five-minutes-of-fame intoxicated wannabes queue for mile after mile, desperately hoping to be the kind of fantasy cyphers everybody is constantly told they want to be. All whilst drowning in endless rounds of addictive self-soothing endorphin hits, counted in ‘likes’ and ‘tweets’.

And what an ugly and tawdry world this muzak creates and adorns. A world of institutionalised blandness, built with mass-produced tat, always aiming about as low as you can go.

Not long before the two recent doctor appointments, where my ears and my soul were tortured by the crassness of modern popular culture, I visited Peterborough Hospital. The whole visit lasted six and a half hours (plus near enough 30 mins – or more [due to roadworks!] – either way, getting there and back).

Peterborough Hospital, not so much a ‘noble edifice’ as an essay in the dismal ugliness of modern social architecture.

I was seen by a ‘CRISIS’ team psychiatrist. And a fairly lengthy interview was conducted. l left the hospital in the firm belief that I was being referred for further help from the crisis team. It’s only been later on that I’ve learned that – prob’ as a result of this meeting (or poss a follow up meeting, at ours a few days later, with a guy whose name escapes me now?) – I am NOT being referred to the Crisis team for further support. This in itself is shocking.

Then, on this most recent call, today, this John Skeels character, who I don’t warm to at all (in fact he winds me up something chronic!), not only reiterates the point about the removal from Crisis support or intervention, but goes further. Blandly telling me I won’t be getting CBT either!!!

I thought I’d understood that Dr Joyce and the lady I saw in A&E were both assuring me I would get some immediate ‘talk therapy’ style support. So far, far from that, I’ve had to endure Groundhog Day style repetitions of cross-questioning, or ‘profiling’, from an alphabet soup of seemingly related yet also not related mental health bodies!

Raking over all this shit continually, without ever actually addressing it constructively, rather surprisingly – NOT! – actually worsens things!

Skeels started out seeming to suggest an initial assessment was due to happen on the call/day. But later on he instead offered a telephone appointment assessment – I’m losing count of how many times I’ve been in this situation: four, five, or more? – with a lady (Hannah Jones?), on 6th April!

My angry protestations about how awful this has all been – passed from pillar to post, continually repeating myself, whilst getting no actual support or help – finally persuaded him to bring the date of the assessment forward a bit: it’s now due 27th April. A week away, instead of over two.

Turn that shit down!

So I’m now back to square one, ringing my GP and FRS (the First Response Service, aka 111, option 2), and queuing for aeons listening to Muzak and so-called A-I bots, telling me my call is oh so important (hence the interminable wait…*) and my queue position is ‘over a barrel’.

* Maybe they’re building suspense, to further heighten the appalling crash that comes when you eventually end hours of calling and realise, more often than not, you’ve achieved exactly fuck all. Except, perhaps, ramping up stress levels a bit more. The exact opposite of what’s needed!

Pretty piano music plays – on a short repetitive loop (isn’t this a black-ops torture technique?) – and I’m told ‘your queue position is, three’; we approach fifteen minutes, for the entirety of which time my queue position has remained three!!!

WOW… at about 15:02 in to the call, I’ve gone from position three to two! I hope I don’t have to wait 15 minutes for… oh, I’m #1 now! 15 mins for one place, then just one for the next!?

Once I’m connected, will I get anywhere? Dr Joyce told me to contact the surgery if need be. And I feel need is very much be! As feck all is happening via CRISIS or LADS or whomever… ah, finally, a human being.


So, twenty minutes waiting, two minutes talking, and in the end only verbal assurance that I’ll get call from Dr Joyce on Thursday coming. Hopefully that will happen.

The corporations and us.

After that tortuous call to my GP (is there any other type these days?), it’s time to join the FRS ‘virtual (aka very real) queue’. This time it’s a more ambient synth and percussion loop.

A little later… So far it’s just (just, JUST!?) been a little over five minutes queuing. And what will this call achieve? I’ll basically be telling them nothing’s happened, and they’ll want to go over everything again, for the umpteenth time. Leading to? Well, thus far, absolutely feck all, in terms of actual support or help!

Gaaarrgh! Gnashing of teeth, wailing, and tearing asunder of a sack-cloth and ashes!

Some more time later… It’s sixteen minutes and counting, on the FRS mental health crisis line. Wonder if folk have topped themselves whilst queuing? It seems the kind of purgatorial – or plain Hell-ish – way to make a depressed person feel even worse.

There’s nowt for making you feel the worlds’ sense of your true value than being made to wait aeons by a robot, before being allowed to interface with an understaffed, under financed and ridiculously complex (due to being dismembered in pursuit of private profit) system.

Nye Bevan would be apoplectic with rage, at seeing what Tories (and even New Labia) have done to his beloved and ought-to-be-cherished institution. It would just confirm for him the truth of his assertion that Tories are, indeed, lower than vermin.

Twenty-two minutes and counting… Jeezuzzz on a fucking pogo-stick!!! I’ll have lost the will to live by the time… oh, no, hang on, that was why I was calling in the first place!

Some time much, much, MUCH later… Well, it was over thirty minutes wait in the end. But when I got through the guy on the call – which lasted about an hour – was good.

I’ve subsequently also had a call from The Sanctuary, an offshoot of the mental health charity MIND. Spoke to a guy named Simon, which turned out to be quite helpful. That call was about 65 minutes! So much time on’t phone!


One of the worst things about this hellish modern way of going about things is that it makes me so angry and querulous that by the time I speak to someone, I’m in a towering rage. A la Saxondale, perhaps?

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