It’s 4.30pm on a hot and sticky afternoon in an English hospital.
The waiting room is airless. People mill around aimlessly, waiting for their overdue appointments to see the consultant.
Fraught mothers attempt to entertain their grumpy children, desperate not to be the ones with “that” child. I am one of these mothers. My child does not want to be here. Shouts of “JUICE!” and “WO AWAY!” fill the air.
But then she spies some shoes.
Not just any shoes, either. A box of dressing up shoes. They sparkle and shine, tempting her like a bumper pack of chocolate buttons.
Next to the shoes, sits a kitchen. It’s packed to the brim with plastic fruit, wooden spoons and pretend boxes of cereal. My daughter is in heaven.
There are also rocking horses, three full bookshelves, lego, toy instruments and train tracks. Suddenly, the airless waiting room isn’t such a bad place to be. It’s almost jolly.
And then it hits me: ALL waiting rooms should be this way – not just children’s ones.
Picture the scene – you’re waiting for that appointment with the dentist. Eagerly you reach for the nearest magazine, only to find it’s a 5 year old copy of Gardener’s World. You spend the next 15 minutes determinedly trying not to catch the gaze of the person sitting next to you. You might attempt an awkward whistle to pass the time.
But then you spy a box of Christian Laboutin’s finest. No more awkward whistles! You bond with your fellow waiting room victims over a shared dressing-up experience. You might not be au fait with 6 inch platforms but no matter – it’s just a game to pass the time!
Or maybe you’re not keen on dressing up. How about a spot of adult crafting? For the knitters amongst you there’s a bag of the best wool and a flurry of knitting needles to try out while you linger for your appointment with the bank manager.
And for the gadget fans, you can choose between an XBox or an iPad to keep your mind off that odd rash you’ve come to see the doctor about.
It’s a faultless idea. No more pre-appointment butterflies, no more pretending to read an old Reader’s Digest in order to avoid conversation, no more desperate texting of every person in your phone book. No more boredom.
Until, that is, 83 year old Margot wants to try on the same Laboutins that you have your eye on. Or 68 year old Fred wants to take too long over his turn on Call of Duty. Or Gerald, aged 45, refuses to share the sparkly skirt you wanted to try with those five inch platforms.
Maybe not then.