Tuesday, June 26, 2007

“My necklace!!! It’s gone!!!”

We halt abruptly at this high drama. Mrs Short Tony is alternately clutching her neck and peering into the midnight blackness. “It fell off. I could feel it fall off. I can’t see it anywhere.”

There is a pause and then a hubbub. Mrs Big A sways from side to side, after too many birthday drinks. Her husband and I, being sober and sensible, take charge of the situation.

“We should look for it,” suggests Big A.

“What we’ll do,” I offer, “is to walk up and down on the pavement with our feet splayed very wide. If we walk beside each other then we’ll have the whole pavement covered. And as soon as we feel a lumpy thing underfoot with perhaps a crunch of glass then we’ll have found your necklace.”

Big A and I start hobbling around awkwardly, like men with canoes on their feet. But even after much tramping there is nothing to be felt.

Next to us, a light goes on in the cottage!!!

Eddie lives with his wife, Eddie, half way down the hill from the Village Pub. This has occasionally been useful to service users. Now there is a silhouette of somebody at the window.

“We could ask to borrow a torch?” says Mrs Short Tony, practically.

“It’s a bit late?”

“No, it’s a good idea.”

“Hello!!!” we cry. “Hellohellohello!!! Woohoo!!! Wooooohooooooo!!!”

“They can’t hear us.”

Mrs Big A strides up and bangs on the window. The silhouette leaps around ten feet in the air.

“Woohooo!!! Eddie! Eddie!”

Eddie’s face appears at the window, before disappearing once more and emerging from the side door, accompanied by her arms, legs and torso.

“I don’t suppose we could borrow a torch?”

“Hello! It’s you lot. Would you like to come in for a coffee?”

At this point, I should explain to overseas readers that there are stock meaningless phrases in English English that are only ever used in the context of being polite and are never meant to be taken as anything other than a matter of etiquette in the circumstances. Things like ‘how are you?’ and ‘it’s a nice day!’ and ‘oh God oh God that feels so big!’ The coffee thing is one of these.

“Oh go on then,” accepts Mrs Big A, leading the four of us past Eddie and into the kitchen. “Do you have any wine?”

“Hullo Eddie,” I greet Eddie, who appears from the living room.

“They’ve just popped in for a glass of wine,” explains Eddie. “Will you excuse us both for a minute?”

We settle down in their comfortable and hospitable kitchen. The two Eddies disappear to change out of their nightclothes.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

“…but she’s still shitting brown water,” I explain over the telephone.

There is a pause whilst the Doctor considers his diagnosis. “Yuk,” he concludes.

“I’ve just been feeding her bread. And to be honest, if I give her any more bread then I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns into a loaf of bread. If that’s medically possible,” I add doubtfully.

“How is she in herself?”

“She’s pretty distressed, to be honest.”

“Hallo! Hallo! Hallo!” the Baby interjects, in a voice of extreme cute and cheerfulness. I round on her. “This isn’t fucking Petite Anglaise, you know.”

I am worried that my last diary entry implied that I was critical of the NHS, which is not the case as everybody knows that our NHS is the envy of the world, like our football league, national stadium, system of democracy, Post Offices, national broadcaster etc. etc. But some people slag it off quicker than Jimmy Carr’s agent on his way to the Embassy Club, Manchester.

The Doctor gives me some good advice, which is basically to ignore it and it will go away anyway. Which happens, and I am grateful as ever.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Continued from yesterday...

The Pathology Lab is closed!!!

Oh! Such unforeseen twists and turns in plot I give you!

There is a sign up, with the opening hours. The opening hours do not include Saturday morning. A small window in the door reveals a dark and deserted waiting area.

Except clearly the Pathology Lab is not REALLY closed. The common bacterium does not keep a nine to five day. It works round the clock, seeking to disfigure and disrupt our immune systems. Thus the Lab must be available, to help the Intensive Care people and everybody. There will be Pathologists in there!!! They are hiding, forced by hospital managers to work in the dark, away from the public eye!!! I hammer on the door in frustration.

No Pathologist breaks cover, and I beat a retreat across football pitches back to the reception area.

“I have this,” I explain to the lady, “to hand in to the Pathology Lab.” I brandish the turd by means of explanation. “But the Pathology Lab is closed, despite my ringing in advance and being assured it was open.” I do not mention that the Pathologists are working clandestinely in the dark. I do not know if she is party to this.

“Take it next door and hand it in at A&E,” she replies.

“Thank you.”

I leave the Hospital entrance, and walk along the pavement to A&E. Passing a bored ambulanceman, I present myself at reception. There is nobody there. I wait for a bit before a Reception Lady appears.

“Who’s next?” asks the Reception Lady.

There is confusion. Another client is also waiting. She is a harrassed mother with a clearly unwell eight-year old. I am a slightly out-of-breath but otherwise healthy man carrying turd in a clear plastic jar.

“After you!” offers the harrassed mother, politely.

“No – please – you go first,” I insist.

“No – go on – you were here first.”

The Reception Lady looks impatiently at us. I agree to go first to avoid further delay. “I’ll be no time, anyway,” I reassure the mother.

“I have this,” I demonstrate, “to hand in. I called first to ascertain that the Pathology Lab would be open, but it is not open.” (Again, I did not grass up the Pathologists, as it was not their fault that I was given wrong information. I do not want them to fear reprisals.) “So I went back to reception and they told me to come here and hand it to you.”

“They shouldn’t have said that.”


“We don’t take samples in. You’ll have to go back to main reception.”

“But they told me to come here. Because they wouldn’t take it.”

“But they shouldn’t have said that.”

At this point I lose my temper. I talk about taking responsibility for things, and giving people proper information, and performing a service to the public and all that, and I go a bit red in the face and wave my turd. She seems unimpressed and I run out of steam.

“Give it here,” she says abruptly. “I’ll take it back to main reception.”

“But it needs to go to the Pathology Lab.”

“I’ll take it to Main Reception. They can organise it. They shouldn’t have told you to bring it here. They need to be told.”

She disappears down the corridor with the turd. I give a weak smile of apology to the waiting mother. Her son coughs feebly. I leave them alone in the empty room.

Monday, June 18, 2007

“So it is definitely open on Saturday morning, then?”

The Doctor’s Receptionist nods, replacing the receiver having checked the information that I need with the Hospital. My morale plummets like a dead starling; it is an incontrovertible law of time and space that the chances of any Hospital facility being open on Saturday mornings is in inverse proportion to the information that you are given by the Hospital about their Saturday morning opening hours.

“Definitely,” she assures me. “From nine until twelve, they say.”

I return home to prepare a sample.

It turns out that there is one thing more unpleasant than cleaning up a diarrhoea-ridden Baby. It is cleaning up a diarrhoea-ridden Baby whilst trying also to scrape some of the diarrhoea off the Baby with a lolly stick and from thence into a sample jar. I cough and gag as I perform this operation. After a process that I am considering writing an article about for ‘Debacle – the quarterly journal of the British Fiasco Society’, I am the proud possessor of some turd in a clear plastic jar.

I wash my hands and then wash my hands again. After leaving the Baby in the care of the LTLP, I wash my hands and drive speedily through the poppy-strewn country lanes to the Hospital.

The car park is a short walk from the main entrance; the distance from the main entrance to the Pathology Lab is equivalent to eighteen football pitches laid end to end, plus three and a half metres. I arrive clutching my turd, slightly out of breath from hurrying.

Continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Baby is yakking up!!!

Normal service will be resumed, ect ect.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I step back and let out a deep sigh of bliss.

To an Englishman, owning a pristine lawn is the most satisfying experience in the world that doesn’t involve trumping somebody in an argument in the pub about road directions. The grass is the greenest shade of green, wafting slightly in the wind, and the cracks between the strips of turf are now almost invisible. Truly I am finally Lord of my own Manor.

I resolve to ring the Turf Man and thank him once more. It is a great feeling when you find a new tradesman who’s friendly and helpful, who gives you an absolute bargain and who delivers on time. The Industrious Builders as well. They laid it expertly, and the younger one even called me ‘Boss’ without making me feel like he was taking the piss. A bird chirrups somewhere up in the Scots Pine.

Each blade seems somehow right. The carpet of turf sweeps towards the carrstone wall, a soft and verdant contrast to the –

There is a weed in my lawn!!!

I glare at it from the gravel path. It is definitely a foreign object. Insulting the virginity of green with its sullen weedness.

I am a bit stumped as to what to do, as nobody is allowed to walk on the new turf. In the end I lie flat and sort of stretch out face down on the lawn, spreading my weight as I reach and grab the intruder.

“That’s not a weed,” explains my Mother, who has appeared behind me like the Creeping Death. “It looks like a potato.”

“It is a potato,” she concludes, after examination. “Look at the leaves. They’re quite sturdy and…”

But I am not listening. I can see another one slightly further from me. I try to think what to say, but I am nonplussed. There are potatoes growing in my new lawn. My back garden is a potato field.