Friday, October 05, 2012


The A&E department is brightly, happily, deliciously empty. A hundred miles of vacant trolleys extending from the atrium along the main corridor past the second isolation room out towards the sluice. Just a couple of occupied cubicles on this side, discreet conversations, contented sounds. And nurses, doctors, consultants, HCAs, cleaners, porters – everyone calmly fulfilling their roles, one thing at a time, as easy in their day as uniform models in a catalogue. I walk up to the desk, place my board on the counter and look around, wondering if I’ll ever see it like this again.
A senior matron has followed me there. She has a check-shirted man in tow - a photographer, judging by the fat and expensive-looking camera he has round his neck. The matron stands next to me and immediately has everyone’s attention.
‘Mind if we take a few shots of the department?’ she says.
It so completely fits with the holiday mood of the place, there is almost a burst of studio laughter and a round of applause.
Only if you get my best side.
He’s a photographer, not a magician.
I need something to do with my hands.
There’s no answer to that.
Just look busy, people.
Thank god you weren’t here yesterday.
The matron absorbs all the comments with a strangely glittering expression, something like a fox in a chicken coop. When the hilarity subsides, she speaks to the charge nurse.
‘Actually he’s from the coroner’s office. We need to establish the sight-lines from the desk to this bed here.’
The charge nurse blanches.
‘How do you want me in the picture?’ she says, picking up the phone and sitting up straight. ‘Is this all right?’
The matron raises her eyebrows.
‘I don’t know. Alert would be good,’ she says.


jacksofbuxton said...

Be Alert.

We need more lerts.

Corina said...

Was there a malpractice type error in the a & e?
BTW, I love your blog, and look forward to every post! Thanks for the glimpse into a part of life in England!

Spence Kennedy said...

I don't know what happened, but it's fair to assume the Coroner thinks an attendance at A&E was part of the picture.
Thanks for reading, Corina - I hope the bleaker side of things in some of these entries doesn't put you off visiting England!

Corina said...

OH Spence! Ever since I was a teen ager, I was convinced I am trans-continental! That is, I was born in the wrong country! I hope to visit one day before I get too old!

Spence Kennedy said...

There are so many great places to live in the world. We went to New York earlier in the year - what an amazing city! I can really imagine living there (would love to). If only I had the time & money to travel a bit more. Still - home's also good!