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Doctor? Doctor Who?

Hello Dr Gauld *, welcome to Hotel 41, may we offer you a complimentary glass of champagne?" The gaggle of receptionists look over my shoulder. “Ah, Mrs Dr Gauld, some fizzy for you also?"

I don't need to turn round to know that 'Mrs Dr Gauld' will be answering in the negative whilst regarding the back of my neck rather as if it were a nest of vipers; her face fixed firmly on it's 'I will speak to you later' setting...for she does not look kindly on this 'Doctor' malarkey.

It was a friend from Japan who actually does have a Doctorate - in difficult sums, I think - that alerted me to the fact that he gets an inordinate amount of upgrades on flights and in hotels due to having the title Doctor in front of his name. It did not take my devious mind long to figure out that whenever the gender text box on a booking form offered: Mr, Mrs, Ms or Dr, I'd be clicking on the latter.

It takes no little guile and alacrity to carry the subterfuge off, when your waiter says, “Would Dr Gauld like extra hollandaise with his Oeufs Florentine?" You must resist the temptation to say, “Why don't you ask him?" What if your services are actually required in a medical capacity? Why fob them off with a, “My area of expertise is sub-tropical diseases." Staff opinion too divides sharply between unquestioning acceptance and those who nail your charade immediately, pointedly referring to you as Mister Gauld whilst managing to silently suggest that if you are indeed a Doctor then they are Alexandra, the last Tsarina of all the Russias.

If you can brazen it out however, it works. Examples include: an upgrade to a 1500 euro a night suite in the Pestana Palace, Lisbon; a change from Exterior Cabin class to Princess class on the Queen Mary and a step up to the Presidential suite in the Hotel Le St James, Montreal. (Mind you at the Hotel Marqués de Riscal in Rioja we got an upgrade which actually took us away from the few Frank Gehry designed rooms to the 'Gwyneth Paltrow Wing'!) In London benefits included a lovely congratulatory cake celebrating my partner's completion of the marathon and, on our last night, a room strewn with rose petals and flickering floating candles. Think American Beauty...then click on that 'Doctor' button.


* Name changed to protect author's identity




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