S.J.A. Turney's Books & More

Reviews, news and inside the world of books.

A day in paradise

leave a comment »

A fresh start. (Note Dec 2009: This entry follows several deleted entries concerning my father’s hospital mishap, collapsed lung, pneumonia and near-death experience. The entries have been deleted as generally unpleasant and memories best forgotten. This, though it picking up the tone again…)

Let me start anew with a happier outlook. I think perhaps that hospitals deserve some attention. I’m interested in the smells of hospitals (in a sort of morbidly fascinated way rather than a love thing.) You always expect them to smell of some sort of medication and urine. In fact the one I’ve been visiting recently does smell of urine, but only as part of a conglomerate. I’m not entirely sure what makes up the smell of this hospital, but I know that more than an hour of breathing it gives me a slight green tint and makes my nose hair curl. Occasionally we get to visit the hospital shortly after the patients have had dinner and then the place smells of urine, sweat and minced beef. Altogether very curious. Other questions leap to mind. Why in Gods name is the lift always on the far end of its course. When I’m on the ground floor, it’s on the top and vice versa. Why, when I’m carrying two of those plastic cups full of coffee that are designed to give the holder third degree burns and have to carry them about a quarter of a mile through medicated, urine-scented corridors, do I always have to share the lift with the retarded hospital porter wheeling four huge cages around with gay abandon. It’s just what you want carrying these things to be battered and mauled by a large wire cage directed by someone with a lazy eye and no sense of direction. It’s kind of amusing that my grandfather’s come up from London to visit my dad while he’s in hospital and, although that’s really nice, he becomes instantly hard work. My dad still get’s short of breath and has a little trouble talking for a length of time. My grandfather is pretty damn deaf. I’m sure you can fill in the blank here. My dad takes a deep breath and gets one word of a sentence out before he’s completely drowned out by his dad going off onto a different subject. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see them both together, but I think my dad’s having to work harder than usual to make himself heard and understood. The hospital is the epitome of organised chaos. I have no idea how anyone can work efficiently in that kind of environment, but they do. They have a twelve hour shift of constant jobs and they keep having to stop doing what they need to in order to help someone. I can sympathise with that, since it’s kind of what I do in the IT sector, but in my case, lives don’t hang in the balance. During my last visit, the rather likeable Scots nurse was running around the ward taking temperatures, blood pressures etc from the six residents. She’d just finished dealing with the miserable old sod in the bed next to my dad and stood the machine at the foot of his bed while she ran off to deal with yet another emergency interruption. While she was out, a ‘health care specialist’ (which appears to be a nurse kept on a crappy title to keep their salary down) came in from another ward and stole the machine to use there. Our nurse then had to chase him down and retrieve it. She had to stop in the middle of something important to supply a commode for another resident and pull the curtains around him. It’s just complete chaos and yet they all know what they’re doing and what still needs to be done. With my memory and lack of organisation, I’d probably have been responsible for the deaths of half the North of England in my first day. My hat is off to hospital staff. You’re all ace. Except the porter with the wire trolley and the lazy eye. You’re a prat.

Today I travel to Wolverhampton for work (to our other branch office). I have an hour long meeting with my boss, the rest of the IT team and the managing director. Due to the incredibly organised and efficient British public transport system, in order to be in this meeting from 1 til 2, I have to leave the house at 7am and return at 7pm. I’m currently on the train travelling down. I’ve read the plan for the meeting four times. I’ve read over my contribution four times. I got bored and now: Moosehunter. I’m rather lucky, however, that I’m on the train. McBoring the grey one is also travelling to Wolverhampton today in his car. If I hadn’t organised the train first I could have ended up travelling as his passenger. Needless to say, I would have come down with a mysterious occurrence of 24hr Malaria or some such had that been the case. I would rather spend the day trapped in a small room with Osama Bin Laden wearing a crusader costume than spend a couple of hours as McBoring’s passenger. In addition to all this, I’m quite lucky to be travelling at all since Mrs Moosehunter left the car lights on last night (one of her regular tricks) and we had to jump-start the damn thing this morning to get her to college and myself to the station.

Returning briefly to the hospital (no plan to this entry, just a ramble) I should relate a couple of stories. There’s the loony who was in the bed next to my dad in the last ward he was in. My dad woke up in the middle of the night to find this strange guy stood at the bottom of the bed, watching him intently. Then there’s my dad’s inability to deal with an oxygen mask. The first one they put on him, he managed to break the elastic cord while turning over and catapulted the mask part across the ward. They replaced it and later that day he managed to break the elastic again, this time catapulting it up in the air and making an impressive try at removing his left ear and left eye in the process. In the end they put him on a tube of oxygen that just hooks round the ears and feeds into the nose. Much better. You can talk, drink, cough. All the things you can’t do through an enclosed oxygen mask. My mother went in to visit, sat on the curtain which hung down and had caught up on the chair, and ripped the privacy curtain from the rail. The next day (in my presence) she made a spirited attempt to cut off his air supply and throttle him by fitting the nose tube incorrectly after he’d changed clothes. Next day she kicked over his temporary oxygen tank, which pulled the tube and tried to rip off his nose and both his ears. For his own sake he needs to get out of hospital as soon as possible before my mother accidentally kills him.

A glance out of the train window tells me I’m approaching the midlands. I’ve left Yorkshire (God’s country, with its hills and valleys of lush green and its lakes and waterfalls and small market towns) far behind. Outside are flooded pools left behind from some industrial works. The landscape is flat and dull and even the trees look bored. Perhaps the incredible boring man is out there somewhere, hurtling towards Wolverhampton and taking the grey with him. It’s actually a blessing when the embankments close in at the side of the railway and you can no longer see the view. God I hate the midlands. Oh look. A heap of rubble, some large sickly green tanks and a tall smoking chimney. Graffiti on a railway bridge. A field full of inexplicable blue plastic tubing. Yes, that’s what I’ll do between here and Wolverhampton: I’ll list what I see. Argh. A guy in this carriage just opened a sentence on his mobile phone with the words “Oh yar.” I thought people stopped saying that in the eighties unless they had no chin and lived in a country mansion.

  • More embankment..
  • Industrial Estate…
  • Ooo. Field!
  • Grey-brown river.
  • Main road full of long-distance lorries.
  • Soul destroying blocks of flats the size of rabbit hutches…
  • Earth patch full of rubble.
  • Factory and car park.
  • Depressing isn’t it.

Going to sign off now and will write more after the meeting and on the way back.

* * * * * * * *

And now I’m back on the train. It’s five hours later and two and a half of those were spent in a meeting during which I appear to have volunteered for two fairly major projects, though both of them in cooperation with other members of the IT department. There may be a momentary break in a short while when I head off to get much needed coffee or a more major break if the laptop battery collapses, seeing as there is another laptop user between me and the socket.

Ah well, never mind. At least I got a seat and on the British railway system, that’s fairly incredible in itself. If things keep going the way they are with British public transport, we’re going to end up like those trains you see in India or Africa with the best part of a thousand people travelling al fresco in serious danger of taking a nose dive from a carriage roof.

So. Where was I. Oh yes…

  • Factory and car park…
  • Earth patch full of rubble…
  • Soul destroying housing…
  • You know, all this looks dead familiar. Sigh.

It’s interesting watching people and I found myself doing it on the way into Wolverhampton this morning on a small local train that stops at any station in a centre with a population over 10. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Arrrrgh! Anyway, I find myself often staring at people. I’m not consciously staring, they just happened to be the last people I was looking at before I mentally drifted off into my own little cosmos. The problem is that this can lead you into trouble if you’re not careful. The guy I found myself staring at was a coloured guy. I am in no way racist, but it would be hard to explain if he asked why I was staring at him. In fact, he was by far the most normal occupant of the carriage. It was the white Caucasians that were the weirdos. A woman with hair that appeared to have been taken off a ‘troll doll’. Honestly, it looked like pink candy floss. Then there was the more elderly woman who continually laughed like an insane banshee and who had grey hair, but had dyed enough of it black that she could tie it in a kind of loose, messy top knot such that it looked as though someone had eaten a bad hairy banana and dropped the blackened skin on her head. Being myself hardly the picture of traditional neatness, I probably shouldn’t comment, but some things just make you laugh. Like the way a ‘company director’ can joke about firing you all and expect you to laugh (eh, IT man? Coz none of us were already ahead of that eh?)

Ah well.

Today there are other small irritations. I stepped out of the office in Wolverhampton into a very fine drizzle and decided to walk the ten minutes to the station. Needless to say, as soon as I was out of sight of the building, the God of Weather (bastard!) decided to drop the North Sea on me through a sieve. I wandered along miserably in the rain until I was within sight of the railway station and shelter and it chose that moment not only to stop raining, but for the sun to shine with a sudden fierce heat. The result, of course, is that I entered the station with steam rising from me. I climbed onto the train, still steaming and squelched as I sat down. I am now dry and the weather is starting to look better as we leave Industrial Wasteland ™ and head back towards God’s Country. I then look forward to arriving at York, dealing with the interminable ‘Park and Ride’ system, which drops you neatly at a car park next to a sewage treatment works. Ah the smell of fresh sewage as you walk across the car park. It’s hard to describe the nose-curdling smell (so I shall not.)

This weekend, Mrs Moosehunter wants us to go on a nice romantic hand-in-hand walk. There are two major problems I can see with this. I enquired as to further detail, and what she envisages is, in fact, a hike. A MAJOR hike. This is no Saturday afternoon stroll. Moreover, despite being shorter than I, she walks at roughly twice my speed. She actually hurtles everywhere. We’re pretty unlikely ever to actually walk together, so you can imagine the difficulty of the proposed ‘hand-in-hand’ part. What this will, in fact, turn out to be is a ten mile hike with Mrs Moosehunter a half-mile ahead of me at every given moment, chatting away and expecting me to hear her, while I stomp along slowly, puffing and panting and continually shouting ‘SLOW DOWN’ and ‘I CAN’T HEAR YOU’. Romantic, isn’t it?

Ah. That’s better. Back now and with a beer but, because of the lack of surface area, I’m holding my beer and therefore typing with one hand. This being the case, it’s time I quit and read a book.

Cheerio all.


Note for Friday morning *

Spent a while after getting back to York yesterday standing in the rain as the damn car wouldn’t start again and now the central locking’s gone on the thing. It never rains but it pours.



Written by SJAT

December 20, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: