This is the very first piece of writing that I ever had published. I wrote it when I was 7, and it was published in the school magazine. My spelling was good, but my use of conjunctions clearly needed a little work.
PETER THE POTATO
One day farmer Brown planted a potato seed and it grew some potatoes and one of them was Peter potato and he was the best potato. So he got sent off to Simba Chips Factory. But he was very sad when he had to get cut and he died. So that was the end of him.
Now compare this to my niece’s short stories, written when she was 12, and tell me that the family resemblance isn’t obvious.
I emailed this heartfelt piece of criticism (intended to be constructive), along with an account query, to Pathcare’s Accounts department this morning:
I might as well mention this too, in the hopes that it might reach the desk of someone who can do something about it:
The way Pathcare’s “Account rejected” letters are designed and laid out (harsh words in enormous letters on a red background) makes me irrationally angry every time I receive one of these. It comes across as reproachful and accusatory. It’s not my fault that my medical aid has rejected the account, but I certainly feel that that’s what Pathcare believes when I see “ACCOUNT REJECTED” splashed across the top of the page in huge letters. As a result, I don’t exactly have positive feelings about the Pathcare brand. And it doesn’t make me particularly eager to pay the outstanding account either.
This is the reply I received:
I would like to apologize for the red reminders you are receiving. That is how the letters are designed to go out to the patient.
This is the answer I’m currently drafting in my head:
YES I KNOW THAT’S HOW THE LETTERS ARE DESIGNED TO GO OUT. That’s why I started my criticism with “The way Pathcare’s… letters are designed…”. It didn’t for one moment occur to me that someone at Pathcare might be specially preparing letters in this format just for me. Or that this was a mistake, and that someone has accidentally (and somewhat co-incidentally) used the format marked “TEST - MEAN AND ANGRY FORMAT - DO NOT USE FOR ACTUAL CUSTOMERS” each time they’ve sent me one of these letters over the past decade.
So. I assume my comment will not, in fact, reach the desk of someone who can do something about it.
That sound? It’s my head repeatedly hitting the wall. I give up.
Melatonin is now a scheduled substance. I’m allowed to buy only one container a month, and I have to write my name, address and phone number in the book every time. Yes. IN THE BOOK. A paper book that sits on the pharmacy counter.
Because what? Because they’re worried I might overdose on the sleepy hormone and get really really sleepy? Because writing my name in the book will cause such shame that I will rethink my druggy ways?
I mean, it totally makes sense - there have been so many cases lately of people getting stupidly high on melatonin, and combining it with other dangerous drugs like vitamin B, and sugar, and protein. (NO THERE HAVEN’T.)
Also, I can really see how writing their names in that paper book at the local pharmacy is going to help those naughty addicts. (NO I CAN’T.)
And no, apparently I don’t have the option to get an actual prescription, thereby legitimising my habit (a habit strongly recommended to me by both of my doctors, by the way), because melatonin is only Schedule 1. No, instead I am forced to ask the lady behind the counter for my melatonin, like a child, and then write my name in the Book of Shameful Drug Addicts… LIKE AN ANIMAL.
Which means it would actually be more pleasant all round to get a prescription for sleeping tablets. I’m sure that’s already crossed the minds of the people who made this new law. Perhaps even before they made the law.
I think you can see what I’m implying.
So, expect chocolate to be scheduled soon. We really need to keep an eye on all those unhappy women self-medicating with Lindt balls. Because they really ought to be buying expensive anti-depressants instead.