You wake up one morning and as the day wears on you don’t feel well.

In fact, you are so poorly you really feel you should see a doctor.

So you phone your surgery at some point in the afternoon. “Sorry,” you are told, “we don’t have any appointments left for today.”

REVEALED: The best and worst GP surgeries in Warrington

So you ask if you can have one for the following day only to be given the dispiriting information that appointments can only be booked on the day and you will need to ring back the following morning when the hotline opens at 8.30am.

The next day, still feeling ill, you drag yourself out of bed and start phoning. There’s no point in ringing before 8.30am because all you get is a recorded message telling you the appointments line isn’t open.

Then magically, the clock ticks past 8.30 and you make the call...and it’s engaged.

So you hang up and ring again...and it’s engaged again.

Maybe if you’re lucky the third, fourth or fifth time you might actually get through. But your joy is short-lived because you find yourself in an automated queue.

Finally, your patience is rewarded and a real person answers the phone.

“Can I have an appointment for today please?” you croak.

And what answer do you get? “Sorry, we don’t have any appointments left for today. You’ll have to ring back after 8.30 in the morning.”

And so it goes on and there is a potential for it to go on for day after day. I suppose the logical conclusion is you either get better or become so ill you have to call an ambulance.

I wish I was exaggerating or making up this Kafka-esque nightmare for comedy effect. I’m not.

Now I’m not one of those people who goes rushing off to the doctor’s at the drop of the hat. Without wishing to tempt fate, I genuinely can’t remember the last time I had a day off work through illness.

Is there a solution, I wonder.

One method, apparently, is to drag yourself out of your sick bed and drive to the surgery, joining the queue of similarly-troubled souls lining up outside, waiting for the doors to open.

Or you can simply give in and ask for the secret code for an appointment at the Bath Street extended hours service. Neither are ideal for someone who is ill or infirm but I guess needs must.

I’m not going to name and shame my surgery – I don’t have to. Just have a look at the report in this week’s Guardian about the town’s best and worst performing surgeries. Mine has a worse patient satisfaction score than last year.

Those figures are more damning than anything I can say.

  •  When I was a little boy, Wednesday night’s tea was always a ‘Bally Anne Day’ meal.

I have no idea what the origin of Bally Anne was but I knew what its effects were.

Bally Anne Day was the day before pay day, the day of the week when money was tight and my mum had to make do and mend – and that extended to what we had to eat.

Basically, a Bally Anne meal was usually frugal and was made up of anything we happened to have in.

And yet, one of those meals has stuck with me into adulthood – much to the amusement of colleagues who call it a ‘mash potato buttie’.

I don’t think it will ever appear on the menu in a posh restaurant (unless it’s trying to be ironic) but mashed potato mixed with grated cheese and fried onions, topped with more grated cheese and sliced tomatoes and grilled (then used as a filling for a sandwich) is still one of my favourite meals.

If anyone can let me know the origins of the phrase Bally Anne Day, I’d be delighted to hear. And in these times of austerity, it would be interesting to know if the concept of make do and mend meals still exists.

Let me know what your favourite Bally Anne Day meal is. Perhaps we can produce an austerity cookbook.