Pull-along suitcases, handbags and briefcases, strollers, bikes, phones, watches, coke cans and coffee cups, suits, shorts, skirts, hats, flats, heels – all moving out across the booming concourse, through the archways and ticket halls, beneath the iron and glass canopy of the station forecourt, around the taxis and the buses and the cars, out into the bright afternoon sunshine, and on into town.
Around a man in a fluorescent tabard, a man in a wheelchair.
I recognise the man in the wheelchair: Matthew, a frequent flyer.
‘Hello!’ I say as we approach.
‘This is Matthew,’ says the railway man, leaning in. ‘He told a member of staff he’s got chest pain.’
‘Chest pain? Okay. Have you still got the pain, Matthew?’
He nods, reservedly, not looking up.
‘Let’s get you on the truck and talk there,’ I say. ‘It’s a bit more private. Is this your chair?’
The railway man nods.
‘We’ll just use it to get Matthew on board if that’s okay, then we’ll give it back.’
We do that, whilst the railway man talks into his radio.
Matthew sits neutrally on the trolley, hands in his lap, spindly legs stretched out. He describes his symptoms.
‘Let’s see what the ECG shows,’ I tell him.
Everything checks out. It always does with Matthew – although to be fair, he normally presents as leg pain / weakness and / or stroke.
‘How are you feeling now?’
He stares at me, his eyes rounded out, filmy and grey. I feel like I’ve broken into a mausoleum and woken him up.
‘I’ve been better,’ he says.
The last time I saw him it was late at night and he’d just been discharged from A&E. He’d made it about five hundred yards down the slope to the main road, then lain himself down on a grass verge. It had just started raining, a heavy shower, the kind that when you tip your head back and look straight up, the droplets strike your face in hard, cold lines running out endlessly from the vanishing point.
You can’t just lie there, Matthew. It’s the middle of the night. It’s pouring with rain.
We help him up.
Where’s your rolator?
In lieu of anything else, we take him back up the slope.
I show Matthew the ECG strip. He turns his eyes in that direction, then back again.
‘What would you like to happen now, Matthew? We can’t find anything wrong, but obviously these tests aren’t definitive. Would you like to go to hospital?’He considers that a while, then nods.