Losing A Finger, Part I

It’s Christmas, so that’s lovely. I’ve had Paul McBeatle’s Mull of Kintyre on heavy rotation while walking the dog, as it is my favourite Christmas song despite being about glens and heather in Scotland. Actually, I wonder how many Scottish couples called Glen and Heather there are? Loads, probably. And don’t believe the hype: even though Scotland likes to present itself as a big cold field where bitter people live, this isn’t true. It is a beautiful place full of brilliant people, and I think they should play to that aspect far more. Yes, if they’d got independence they would’ve wasted all their tax revenue changing the name from ‘Scotland’ to ‘Not England’, as not being England is the most important thing in the world to a major international player like Scotland, but still. Even if you’re Scottish, it’s Christmas. It’s even Christmas at my hospital, where everything’s covered in tinsel and the corridors are knee deep in Cadbury’s Heroes, which makes moving patients around tricky. I’ve been substituting prosecco for lidocaine to cheer them up during surgery, though, so all’s right with the world.

It’s probably worth pointing out that I am not a nurse. As I may have explained before, I’m not even a trainee nurse. Myself and my fellow dogsbodies are, essentially, trainee trainee nurses. We are obliged to do a lot of nurse stuff, because there aren’t any actual nurses, and there aren’t any actual nurses because being an actual nurse is horrible. To their credit, they try to put you off a career in nursing by being overweight, depressed and obsessed with cats, which sends a pretty clear signal. I often imagine that when they leave college, nurses are given a special advent calendar with a window for every day until they retire, and behind each window, as the years grind past, is a little chart to record their increasing disappointment with life. As you can probably imagine, this puts those of us working towards actually being nurses in a bit of a quandary because, as far as our training and exams go, success would be a disaster.

I explained the horror I feel about this at a recent ‘Hey! How’s it going?’ meeting my fellow cannon fodder and I had with a sympathetic consultant. On this occasion, we were talking with Dr Bowler, who I think we met last time. I am fond of Dr Bowler, as he addresses everyone as ‘chaps’ and ‘Dear boy’ and habitually wears a sheepskin flying jacket. As I once remarked to him, my dissertation was on the British Commonwealth in World War Two, so to work with someone who appears to be a Spitfire pilot is very exciting. Then again, it can be a strain on hospital infrastructure as he sometimes comes to work in a Lancaster bomber, which takes up forty-seven parking spaces, and so on.

Anyway. Looking back, when asked our opinions upon our training and eventual destination, I may have been channelling Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Reggie Kray in the pub fight scene from Legend. This is because I found myself saying ‘I’ll tell you all about being a nurse. Fuck being a nurse, and fuck nursing. Fuck oncology and gynaecology and the other ologies. Fuck main theatres, fuck wearing scrubs and fuck fucking about all day with fucking syringes. In fact, I would rather lose a fucking finger than be a fucking nurse.’

Channelling Reggie Kray or not, it was felt by my fellow dogsbodies that this explained our position adequately. It was unclear what someone who appeared to have spent a long morning dog-fighting with the Hun would do about this but, as it turned out, there was good news on the horizon. Or bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, if you will. (NB Germans aren’t allowed to have Christmas because they don’t deserve it).


Main: Joe in the glamourous Compleat Angler by Norwich station recently.

Top inset: I recently attempted to get Sid to eat more vegetables by hiding garden peas in his birthday cake. He spotted them, unfortunately, but thought it was quite a larf.

Lower inset: A Christmas tribute to the late Queen, who Sid thinks flew a ‘Spitflier’ during this summer’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

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