Village of the damned hard to find

As I drive the pollen-laden lanes of rural Suffolk, sneezing, I am called by the practice. Mr Whinge is struggling to breathe. Could I go?

The house number is 13, and not without good reason. I think I know the place but it becomes apparent that I do not. There are no numbers, no names, no pack drill, and the pollen is like biological warfare. I begin to wonder if I have found the retirement road for ex-MI5 agents. Everyone is wearing dark glasses and all the windows have net curtains. After three circuits my eyelids swell so much I can barely see, and I pull to a halt outside Tumbledown Mill and phone the patient.

‘Number 13,’ I tell him, ‘doesn’t appear to exist.’

‘Have you found number 12a?’ quoth he, sounding quite cheery for a man with breathing difficulty.

‘No,’ say I. ‘I’m outside Tumbledown Mill.’

‘Oo-er,’ he says, with best Suffolk charm, ‘I wouldn’t start from there, I’ve never even heard of it. Go back to the main road and start again.’

I reverse out, phone at my ear, wondering if police satellites can see sideways through windows. ‘So where’s 12a.’

‘Oh it doesn’t have a number on it, doc, but it’s near number 10 on the corner.’

‘And that is…?’

‘Near the red brick house just down from me.’

This goes on for a while. Several times I drive up the same cul de sac, eyes streaming, and when I pull up outside Tumbledown Mill for the seventh time I consider calling an ambulance, if only for the Piriton. As I climb from the car, a door creaks slowly open. Hoping for friendly advice from an ex member of the security services I smile hopefully and then...

‘Hi Doc,’ says a familiar (and not at all breathless) voice, ‘I thought it was you.’

‘Mr Whinge,’ I say mournfully, ‘Tumbledown Mill seems to be your house.’

‘I suppose it is, doc.’ He slips his shades back on. ‘Round here we don’t really use the names.’

Perhaps he’d like me to ghost write his memoirs. 

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

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