I’m sitting in a reception area at this huge hospital in. Manchester. My foot taps uncontrollably and I’m taking deep breaths every few minutes. I’m waiting to see a genetic counsellor for a review. I last saw her five years ago. A lot has happened since.
I check the time, again, and look around. A family comes in and sits down behind me. I don’t want to be obvious by turning completely around, but out of the corner of my eye I see that it’s an older couple, each white-haired, with a girl on the edge of adolescence.
My ears prick up when the woman speaks quietly to the girl. She has a Yorkshire accent. I wonder what they’re doing here, get lost for a moment imagining what has brought them to Manchester today.
They’re talking about the result of a ‘pride of Manchester’ award – it’s Emmeline Pankhurst. The girl doesn’t know who this is, so the older woman explains.
The man speaks – he sounds Yorkshire, too. He tells the girl who else was in the running, rattling off the names. His voice is deep and comforting, the epitome of a grandfather. I wonder if they live together, and if so, where are the girl’s parents. Scenarios and stories start to run through my head, and I almost miss the next part of their conversation.
They’re debating the merit of the nominees. They agree on the deserving nature of the winner, who has been selected by public vote. There’s actors; one half of a musical duo; footballers of course – this is Manchester.
The man’s tone turns disapproving: he doesn’t think they merit inclusion. The woman argues – they’re all well-known and from Manchester, that’s all that’s required isn’t it?
No, comes the reply. Emmeline Pankhurst contributed to society, she left a legacy. She helped change the world. The others are entertainers, sportspeople, yes, but they haven’t achieved positive change in the same way.
I’m so interested in their discussion that I forget to be nervous. Heck, I forget where I am. I wonder what the girl thinks and who she agrees with. I wonder if she is even listening, or if she’s already heard endless variations of this debate. I’m actively eavesdropping now, anticipating her contribution –
The doctor is standing in the doorway, smiling expectantly. It takes me only a second to cover my disappointed expression, even less for my nerves to return. I reluctantly leave the family in the waiting room and follow the white coat down the corridor.