Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Article excerpt

Six months into the renovations and I have so much dust in my lungs I have had to give Stefano an ultimatum.

'You've got to finish by Christmas,' I told him when he arrived with his men the other morning, 'or I am going to have to start spending the budget, such that it exists, on emergency healthcare.'

I feel as though I have inhaled the entire house. I'm not sure what was in this house, but I hope it wasn't anything noxious. It's Victorian so it ought to be all right, I have been telling myself. But what do I know?

I think I've mainly taken on board brick dust and live plaster, the prognosis for which, a swift internet search appears to suggest, is that I should be all right, but then again I might conk out from anthrax poisoning.

I started coughing about two months ago. After a week, I stopped. Then last week, I recommenced and this time the coughing shows no sign of desisting.

I have coughed and coughed until I have felt there might be no alternative but to attempt to book an appointment with The Village medical centre, a long, drawn-out process requiring the computer skills of a Palo Alto dotcom tech gazillionaire.

I tried it once, and had to give up. So I took to going to see a private GP costing £70 a pop. That isn't expensive, if you weigh up the true costs of the NHS option, which involves getting my tech guy to come to the house to help me fire up the online appointment maker and work out what my log-in is. I've so far narrowed it down to an estimated 150 possible permutations of the same daft word I use for most pass codes, but that is scant consolation as I never can remember exactly which permutation goes with what on account of the fact that some organisations insist on a mix of upper and lower case, while some want figures, so I stick a 1 and a 2 on the end, and so on.

Incidentally, I did once ring up and ask a living person for an appointment and was offered one a month later. To get anything sooner, I would need to log on to the system because sooner appointments are only 'released online'.

I don't care for these shenanigans. As a work colleague of mine used to say whenever we were contemplating whether to take a cab: 'Are we artiste or artisan? …

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