I’m through to the hospital, eager to confirm my appointment for an after-surgery check-up. I’m being talked at by a voice-reactive switchboard operative.

“…say the name of the person or department you wish to speak to. Or say ‘operator’. Be sure to speak clearly.”

“Op-ur-rate-or.” I speak very, very clearly.

“Mr Abdullah is not available.”

“Mr Abdullah… ?”

“Do you wish Mr Abdullah to be paged? Yes or no.”

“No, no. NO.” And then I shout, “Appointments!”

Barely a pause before “The gynaecology department appointments line is busy. Do you wish to hold?”

“I’m bleeding to death!” I shout. “Give ...


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