He stopped and jumped off, only sprawling a little, and propped the bike against the wall. For a moment he looked around in puzzlement, then consulted a little notebook, then noticed the huge health centre sign. His puzzlement cleared. Behind him, his bicycle fell over.
He managed the steps well enough, only stumbling once, but had trouble with the door, pulling it, banging it, twisting the handle, finally gesturing in despair to the people inside. A kindly old lady came and opened the door for him, gently indicating the big sign that said 'Push'.
'It's the man from the CQC,' the receptionist said, rolling her eyes. 'Am I to be spared nothing?'
I demanded. But in he came, tripping over the welcome mat. 'Enjoying your trip?' I asked, sweetly.
He sat down awkwardly on the awkward chair that we reserve for People We Don't Like. It is low, uncomfortable and unbalanced, and its plastic covering makes an embarrassing (or amusing, depending on your point of view) noise every time the occupant shifts. 'So what can I do for you?' I asked, briefly pining for the days of the primary care czar, probably now banished to the gulags.
'I am the man from the CQC,' he said, drawing himself up proudly, the effect rather spoiled by the noises coming from the chair.
'To quote our glorious leader, Sir Mike Richards: "Our judgment comes from a combination of data and inspection. The main thing that is going to matter is, we are going to inspect every practice." Every practice, you heard it spoken,' he said.
'And our chief weapon is surprise,' he added, 'surprise and fear.' 'That's two weapons,' I said.
'Surprise, fear and a fanatical devotion to duty.'
'That's three weapons.'
He looked worried and tried a quick calculation on his fingers; he became more and more muddled, and eventually gave up. 'Yes,' he said miserably, 'we really are shit at counting, aren't we?'
'Hence the CQC report,' I said.
- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell.