Doctors and nurses, dole queues and curses

I hate going to see the doctor. I hate it so much I have postponed changing medical practice for as long as possible, however seeing as I need a new prescription for "happy pills" I thought it was about time I traipsed down to the local surgery to register.

As expected, I needed to see the Practice Nurse for a new patient review. Unexpectedly, it wasn't entirely a horrific experience. Apart from the insecurity felt from having to walk down the street with a vial of urine in my pocket, I wasn't made to feel overly anxious by the experience.

The nurse was warmly professional and listened, weighed, tested and tapped with an appropriate degree of professional interest. She neither quaked nor quailed when I told her I was, indeed, a lesbian (unlike a previous nurse who, when I was asked about my sexual history, raised her eyebrows so high that it looked as though she had visited Joan Rivers' plastic surgeon... ) She complimented me on my weight loss over the past couple of years. She even shrugged off my recent smoking lapses, pointing out I had quit before, I knew how to quit and I could access help to quit whenever I wanted it.

On leaving the surgery I made an appointment to see the doctor - an appointment was available for Monday morning: not in a fortnight's time, but this coming Monday! I'm hopeful that this medical practice will finally be one in which I feel comfortable to be a patient.

Tomorrow however I visit JobCentrePlus (now with added... "Plus!") I've signed-on before - it wasn't fun- so I pretty much know what to expect. Of course there are subtle differences from when I last wrote my name fortnightly for money: now, before attending a "Job Start Review" [incidentally, how can you review something before you've even attended? Just curious...] you have to be interviewed over the phone in order to prepare the greater part of your JobSeeker's Agreement. The phone call lasted 45 minutes.

I was called by a friendly, soothing-voiced Dundonian, based in a call-centre somewhere near the Tay (apparently). She asked the usual plethora of questions - she even ad-libbed a few quips and varied the tone of her voice in order to make the incessant, daft questions seem both more ridiculous and less dull- and the entire process wasn't entirely vile. I hate signing-on with a passion. I recognise it is a social safety-net and I am in economic freefall, but I still resent having to do it. I feel as though I am being judged as a failure in some way, that I should have a "successful" career, be using my qualifications to full effect and not languishing at the expense of the state. Of course, I've paid a fair bit of tax and a whack of National Insurance, so I suppose I'm just dipping into a bank that I've already paid into -but I still feel like shit.

Tomorrow no doubt I shall have to go over the questions again, do a pointless job search (not many colleges recruit through the JobCentre - with or without the "Plus" - neither do schools... nor many not-for-profit organisations... My career choices must be so very left-of centre. Err...) and get that familiar sinking feeling that I am doing something somewhat disappointing.

On the plus side, I might head back to the German Market and treat myself to a pricy German Sausage and Gluhwein lunch. Alternatively, I might just limp back home, scour the jobs pages and treat myself to something ridiculously tasty, artisan baked and yet reasonably priced from The Manna House...