The patient’s house is easily identified by the ambulance standing outside. I park where I can – this is a crowded little red-bricked estate with cars up on any horizontal surface that will have them. But the first ambulance is already blocking the street for anyone at the end, so I don’t worry too much about leaving the way clear.
The front door stands open. We can see a trolley set up in the hallway. Going inside I hear the crew that has called for help chatting pleasantly in a bedroom off to the left. Walking round into the doorway I see an enormously heavy man standing supporting himself on a reproduction Georgian bedside table, something I expect to explode into splinters any moment. He is leaning forwards on his swollen arms, legs planted at shoulder width. His legs seem to have morphed into great, bandaged elephant trunks, patches of rotten brown skin flaking off on the inner aspects of his thighs. His body - a thirty stone reservoir of pendulous fat – sways in the gap between man and table. He smiles across at us, his pouty mouth underlined by a stack of chins.
‘Hi guys,’ says Frank. ‘This is Peter. Peter’s been seen by his GP this morning with an on-going cellulitis problem. The GP wants him into the hospital today to have a thorough-going look at that, and a few other bits and pieces. Obviously we needed a little help – erm – with the trolley.’
Frank smiles at me and taps the clipboard on his chest.
‘Go on, you can say it,’ Peter says, hauling one of his legs forward half an inch. ‘I don’t mind if you call a spade a spade. I’m a big fat bastard. There. It’s out. And I’m sorry to trouble you all.’
Someone leans on their horn in the street.