David Payne: The feelgood factor

David Payne What makes you feel good? Richard Smith asks Anna Donald in his last response to her blog about living with a life-threatening illness as a doctor. Anna will no doubt post on this very soon, and I look forward, as always, to reading her response. But Richard’s question/challenge struck a chord.

Last week I returned from a two-week holiday to a voice message from my GP surgery saying they’d removed me from their list. Apparently I’d neglected to return a form to my Primary Care Trust in November 2007 confirming that I’d not moved house since 2001. (The letter must have got lost among all the cheap credit card and broadband deals I get offered).

I was cross. Why no warning? My GP is great. I see him very infrequently, but when I do, he likes to talk (I like that in a doctor).

Anyway, a couple of phone calls and a visit to my surgery with a utility bill later, I was back on the list, my sense of post-holiday calm largely intact. Feeling good, in other words, because my dread of hitting a wall of bureaucracy had proved unfounded.

That evening I went to a London Prom concert. There were meant to be six of us, but four had dropped out.

I’d rashly volunteered to try and sell on my friends’ tickets. I arrived at the venue late (probably because of the amount of time I’d spent on the phone trying to win my GP back, and rush-hour delays on the Tube) in no mood to haggle and tout tickets outside the Albert Hall.

With only minutes to spare, I went to the box office, where, to my surprise, a long and orderly queue of people was patiently waiting for any unwanted tickets.

So not only did I recoup £100 for my friend, I sold tickets to four die-hard fans of Vaughan Williams. One woman was celebrating her birthday; another had trawled the Internet a dozen times that week trying to get two last-minute tickets.

I couldn’t get over their gratitude. I left the concert that night on a real and unexpected high. It’s almost worth always buying too many tickets, so you can sell them on the night and see the pleasure on peoples’ faces.

So there you have it. Feeling good for me is when something unexpected happens, a positive from a potential negative, something nice on a day that you’ve written off as a bad one.

Before I close, something else made me feel good last week too. Anna sent me a copy of a Sydney Morning Herald article they wrote about her.

Again, completely unexpected, and the fact that it’s had an amazing response, and made her glad that she did it, makes you feel good.