I'm sitting on a midnight blue bucket chair, waiting to see Dr Ling about the panic attacks. Posters plaster the wall around me, advertising weight loss programmes, anti-smoking services and the delights of sexually transmitted diseases. In my bag is a half-finished article for the website.
The subject 'The world is your mirror' (suggested by the editor) is proving a bit beyond me. The basic idea, I think, is that the state of a person's relationships and immediate environment reflects the state of their inner Well-being. Apparently.
I glance around me. If the latter's true, then my inner well-being is looking pretty rickety - what with the cheap bucket chairs, the scary STD posters, the big black coffin-shaped coffee machine and the piles of tattered magazines.
My phone rings.
'Help, I'm having a panic attack,' says Geoff.
'Not funny,' I say.
Geoff continues to impersonate someone hyperventilating. 'What do I do?' he gasps.
I sigh. 'Just breathe,' I say, imitating the American life coach who talked me through a recent panic attack. 'In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.'
'Genius,' says Geoff, instantly dropping the panicky voice. 'All better now.' He then launches into a mid-level rant against the Notting Hill couple he's just driven to Heathrow airport.
'How's your inner Well-being today?' I ask, when he's finished.
'You don't want to know,' says Geoff and hangs up.
I abandon the article and pick up an old National Geographic. On page 9 I read that the gestation period for a hammer headed bat is 15 weeks. Two pages later I learn that at birth a panda is smaller than a field mouse. I'm just trying to reconstruct the length of a newborn panda with my thumb and forefinger when a young-ish man with dark curly hair enters the waiting room.
Passing me, he glances over and smiles before sitting down. I smile back then stare at the National Geographic again to look busy. But I can't concentrate because I can feel him watching me, so I stand up and head over to the coffee machine.
I slot in my money, pop a polystyrene cup beneath the nozzle and press the button for a cappuccino. Nothing happens. I press the button again, still nothing - so I bump the machine with my shoulder to get things going. There's a whirring and clunking and the cup fills with beige liquid.
I remove it, but the liquid's still flowing so I place another cup there. That one fills up too.
I shove a third cup under the nozzle which is now dispensing watery cappuccino with alarming generosity.
'Need some help?' says the man walking over.
I nod as the overspill splashes onto my shoes and the blue waiting room carpet.
'Stand back,' he says in a mock disaster movie voice, 'this could get nasty.' He slams a hand against the machine and it shudders to a halt.
'Phew,' I say. 'We nearly drowned in shoddy coffee there.'
He grins then glances at the polystyrene cup in my left hand. 'I assume that's for me?'
To be continued next Friday...