My own attempt to beat Gallic flair

There is something extremely French about Madame Croissant.

She is, how can I say, chic. She wears a little silk scarf at her neck just so. She is, vraiment, Parisienne. She makes me wish I was Parisienne too.

Today Madame comes for the result of ze test of ze thyroid, which shows an elevated TSH. Her Allo, Allo impression reaches new heights as she learns that she does not simply have ‘le middle aged spread’ (said with one of those ‘muh’ faces at which French women excel).

‘But zis is trés bon, Docteur Selbeee. My seester, she live een Paris, and goes every day to ze restaurant. She ave ze foie gras, du vin, mais pouff. She is so slim and I am, ow you say, paunchy! My docteur en Paris, she say, “but Nicole, wat ’as ’appened? You ave gained four kilos. Mon Dieu, I ave never before seen zis!” I say j’habite maintenant en Angleterre and she say “Ah, zut, eet eez the pies”,  then she give me ze antidepressant and sends me to Chanel…’

Parisian doctors, it seems, weigh patients annually, and express horror if the clothes don’t fit. I feel bumpkinish and inferior by comparison. A 4kg gain in Mrs Enormous would have been considered weight loss at my last surgery, and I have never suggested even to my most lardaceous patient that they exceed my previous experience.

I make a point of having seen someone worse; it adds to the wise-old-woman approach that I have been cultivating since I grew the mole on my chin. Anyway, if I sent Mrs Enormous shopping she would have to buy the changing room curtains.

It is not clear whether Madame Croissant was given the antidepressant because she has put on weight or because she lives in England, but she is much keener to take the thyroxine from Dr Bumpkin here than ‘zose stupeed mad pills’. I may not have a Chanel suit, but je pense que zis time it’s quarante–zero to les Anglais.

Dr Selby is a GP in Suffolk. You can write to her at

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