Everyone develops an ambulance persona over time. It starts forming day one, filling out, drying and colouring as palpably as the wings of an insect crawling out on a leaf. Fed equally by experience and need, it is an expedient, semi-fictional character that feels out its correspondences with all the other characters it meets on the job - at the station, at the hospital, in the community; a curious hybrid character, rooted in your private self, nourished by your public self, sufficient, sustaining, protective and – hopefully - loved.
Marcus could hang his character on a peg marked ‘Carry On’. If a scientist tweezered off a thread of his shirt for DNA profiling, the report would come back five percent Kenneth Williams, five percent Charles Hautrey, ten percent Frankie Howerd – the rest, strange, less identifiable structures coiling back into the furthest recesses of British music hall tradition.
A paramedic for twenty years, Marcus has been everywhere, seen everything, and talked about it in tones rounder than a Christmas pudding. Outrageously fit and handsome, with his clear blue eyes, lean body and action figure head of silver hair, he could pull on a leather bomber jacket, throw a leg over a motorcycle and play Steve McQueen in a biopic. Except, he wouldn’t be able to resist pursing his lips, crossing his eyes and saying something like: ‘Ere, Jump on and I’ll let you squeeze me ‘orn, or maybe: I’m not used to having something this big between my legs.
In the Rec room, Graham, a young trainee paramedic, tells us about his three weeks in theatres. He describes what the consultants were like, how easy – or difficult – he found it, fitting in around them, learning how they work, acquiring the statutory number of intubations and cannulations he needs to complete that module.
‘And Marcus, mate, you’ve got an identical twin. I met an ODP there the absolute spit of you. Honestly – looks the same, sounds the same, the same mannerisms. It’s uncanny.’
‘Ooh. Good looking fella is he?’
Graham laughs, and almost spills his tea.
‘There you go. That proves it. When I told him about you, that’s exactly what he said.’