Mr Loesser lies propped up in bed, a plastic basin on the floor, a box of tissues and a child’s beaker of water on a side table. He barely stirs when we come into the room; his voice, when he talks, is so thin and indistinct it could be coming from his reflection in that dressing table mirror on the other side of the room.
‘So sorry to be a nuisance,’ he says. ‘But I feel so wretched.’
His son is sitting on the bed next to him.
‘Dad hasn’t been well the last few days,’ he says, stroking his hand. ‘Nausea and vomiting, possibly haemetemesis, some epigastric pain, constant, non-radiating, a bit of a temperature, general lassitude and general all-round fed-up-ness.’ He pulls a grumps face, then adds: ‘I’m a GP, by the way.’
‘And a good one, too,’ says Mr Loesser with a weak smile.
We read the notes the out of hours doc left, then help Mr Loesser into our chair.
‘Can you believe I used to be a rower?’ he says, then retches into the bowl.
Outside in the corridor, a group of elderly women are lined up. They’ve heard the ambulance arrive and have come to see him off.
Bye, bye, Eric.
All the best, love.
You’ll be back in no time.
Don’t forget we need you for the bridge match on Wednesday.
He gives them all a royal wave as we process towards the lift.
I pull up at A&E just as a massive fireworks display kicks off nearby. A hundred brilliant points of light rush up into the sky above the hospital, booming and crackling, flowering, scattering, then drifting away on long tendrils of smoke before the next burst takes their place. The noise of it all reverberates through the air.
When I open the back door, Mr Loesser Jnr. pauses on the top step, looking up, then jumps down and moves to the side as I lower the tail lift.
‘Do you know what the fireworks are for?’ I ask him.
‘They’re for my father!’ he says. ‘They’re for my father, coming to hospital!’