As sure as the sun rising every morning, or the stars coming out to shine every night, Joe's annoyance was something you could rely on, something to hold onto in an ever-changing world. It was vast, gigantic, Olympian; if annoyance were pointless and inane celebrities, Joe would be Jedward or Jordan or Cheryl Cole or Tony Blair. So for him to feel the need to express it was evidence of an extreme situation.
'Tell me about it,' I said, sitting back and adopting an interested expression (because I am sometimes a good doctor), though I spoiled the general effect by yawning hugely, taking out a pack of cards and dealing a hand of solitaire.
'I added you as friend on Facebook,' he said, pointing an accusatory finger at me (which I noted, as my clinical instincts are never asleep, displayed neither Osler's nodes nor splinter haemorrhages, those things beloved of our medical lecturers but which don't seem to actually exist in the real world), 'and you haven't responded.'
'Nothing would make me happier,' I said, shaking my head sadly, 'than for you and I to become Facebook friends, and share with each other the minutiae of our daily lives; such intimacy would light up my life, it would be my very heart's desire. WB Yeats probably had this kind of thing in mind when he wrote: "Think where man's glory both begins and ends/And say my glory was, I had such friends."
'Unfortunately,' I continued, 'the BMA, no less, smart chaps that they are, has ordained that doctors should not take on either present or past patients as Facebook friends, as it believes that sort of chumminess would affect the doctor-patient relationship.'
'I suppose they know best,' he admitted.
I should have left it there, but the gloating fool within me could not resist a victory lap.
'It's tragic,' I lamented, 'that I shall be unreasonably deprived, for example, of the chance to view at my leisure your holiday snaps from Santa Ponsa and your rotundly glorious pink and white body running wild and free over those endless golden beaches.'
'You're in luck, doc,' he said, 'I have them right here.'