Twenty years. I used to think - as long as I enjoy the work, as long as it leaves me enough spare time. It doesn't matter about the pay. I'd rather be poor and happy: that's the bargain. Walking to work every day, through the woods. Bluebells in the spring, rain and mud in the winter. Helping the patients. Working with nice people... Twenty years. A blur of phonecalls and computer screens. Faces at the counter. People getting old and dying. I hardly even notice the bluebells and the mud any more. Hardly even notice the patients. Always preoccupied, always thinking about the job. A tightening net of targets, requirements, problems, protocols, stress. Every year the net gets tighter, heavier, more complex. Less money, more anxiety. Everybody uptight. Surgery nearly broke. Unpaid overtime. This disciplinary case. Bad feelings. Resentment and suspicion. Twenty years...

Somebody else in the church. I didn't notice them come in.

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