25 JUNE 1994, Page 47


Dear Mary.. .

Q. Over the last year I have made rather a lot of appointments with my GP for things that turned out to be false alarms. I recog- nise that I am something of a hypochondri- ac, but that does not reduce the anxiety I feel when experiencing unexplained symp- toms that may well be warning signs. What is the best way to make one's doctor take one seriously? I feel that mine has ceased to do so as I have cried wolf so many times in the past.

HG., London SW7 A. Don't worry about it. Hypochondriacs living in central London can indulge their neuroses to their heart's content by calling out, quite legally, an 'emergency' doctor from the fashionable Doctorcall service in Hans Place, SW1. For only £60 per visit, anything from sore throats to heart attacks will be dealt with by a member of this effi- cient and kindly team. These visiting doc- tors are completely unresentful of their time being wasted — they receive the fat fee anyway — but the great advantage for the hypochondriac is that he will be given a full diagnostic report in writing on comple- tion of the visit. It is left up to the patient to pass on this document to the GP. You may well decide against adding to the swelling body of evidence against you, but you will still have had the reassurance of a visit from a professional. Doctorcall's number is 071-225 1111.

Q. My teenage daughter has the habit of filling the kettle too full. I have told her again and again that there is no need to fill it to the brim when making only one cup of coffee, yet every time I come into the kitchen I seem to find a leaded kettle sim- mering its 20-minute way up to the boil on our gas stove. How can I get the message through?

AC., London W8 A. No doubt your teenage daughter is mak- ing a statement of identity by countermand- ing your orders. You can solve this problem swiftly and smartly, however, by replacing your existing kettle with an annoyingly sized mini-model of the type used by campers. In this way it will no longer be physically possible for your daughter to provoke you in this tried and tested man- ner.

Q. Having arrived at a solution to a well- known social hazard, I offer it to your read- ers. When trapped in a confined space at a drinks or dinner party with an interlocutor who suffers from 'death breath', how do you avoid inhaling the fumes? Answer use your wine-glass as a facial shield. Keep your nose in the glass as though sniffing its contents and, holding it by the stem of course, jiggle the glass lightly to and fro as though you are a wine buff. Meanwhile, carry on talking as normal. This shield will protect you from the worst excesses of your interlocutor and, being completely trans- parent, cannot possibly cause offence.

C.S., Kilburn, London A. Thank you for submitting your useful tip.