In our hospital, if you’ve broken a bone or been in an accident, are otherwise ill, or work here, you’re fucked. On the other hand, if it’s parenthood or cancer you’re after, you’re in luck, because the oncology and birthing units are excellent. In fact, midwifery was my first choice of working area, because I like the idea that, as soon as a lady’s contraptions start, you are dealing with two patients – the lady and her lovely new baby. Male midwives are not exactly encouraged, though, which I suppose is why childbirth is so disorganised. In any case, the advantage of working in a disintegrating NHS is that if you keep your wits about you and dodge the worst of the crumbling infrastructure, you can end up wherever you want – and, as mentioned last time, Santa may have provided us with a path through the flaming wreckage to something worth doing, which is very fortuitous indeed.
I work in Radiology, and Radiology is great. I was sold on the idea of working here when, on a pre-employment visit, a recruiting nurse pointed to our unit and said ‘no one really knows what goes on in there’. Now that I do know what goes on in Radiology, I have decided that I, too, would like to earn a living by injecting dye in to people and then taking pictures of their kidneys. Imagine my delight, then, when a Christmas miracle arrived in the form of training to do that exact thing. Yes, there are two years of preliminary training to get through first, but this involves being a mysterious, specialist Radiography nurse, and not a fat, unhappy, normal one. I initially missed the news, because Mr Universally Inept and I were dealing with a patient and consultant who looked like R Kelly and David Bowie respectively, causing us great amusement. I wanted treatment to include a duet of Starman. Anyway. There are four training places up for grabs and, as I am one of only two applicants without a significant learning or behavioural issue, I consider myself to have a fighting chance.
Well, there’s a thing with that. Remarkably, the Inner London Education Authority has lost all academic records for my school, so there is no proof of my pass marks at both English and Maths. I therefore have no way of proving to the University of Derby, who are providing the training, that I have basic literacy and numeracy skills, and that educationally speaking I am a safer bet than the mentally handicapped. There’s no point me waving a Masters Degree in Politics around either, because that’s a Humanities subject, and this is a branch of Science, so it doesn’t count. Also, there are mutterings that the University gets extra funding for special needs students, putting me at a further disadvantage. I don’t believe this, at least not in the rather nasty sense it is implied. I mean, God knows the NHS is a freak show, but still.
One of the reasons I don’t believe this is that, as several of us crowded into our unit’s Bad News room for a Zoom call about the course, I found myself next to Mr Universally Inept. There is a legend in Radiology of a mysterious angry giant whose mighty footsteps cause the masonry to shake and the theatre lights to flicker. This is, in fact, Mr Universally Inept crashing bed-ridden patients into every single door frame and supporting wall along the main corridor in our unit. Everyone’s crashed a patient into something, but it’s usually just one of the cleaners. Not everyone has crashed a patient into a massive static display screen while wheeling them into an operating theatre, causing their procedure to be postponed for several days while a replacement screen is found, and subsequently crashing them into a wall on the way back out, but Mr Universally Inept has. Within ninety seconds of sitting down, he had banged his knee on the desk, struck the monitor with his forehead, dropped his biscuits twice, discovered that a pen had leaked in his pocket and somehow caused his staff door pass to disintegrate. He is a catastrope of a man, and it was like sitting next to some kind of localised natural disaster. I do not think a career in renal surgery is a natural move for him.
Fortunately, one of my more niche duties is proof reading NHS governance for our matron before it goes off to the Department of Work and Pensions. She rather generously describes me as being of ‘the highest integrity’ and that, if I say I have the required qualifications then, as far as she is concerned, I have. She’s on the selection panel too, so I am hoping she will be a useful ally. So keep your fingers crossed if, unlike Mr Universally Inept, you are able to do that without somehow breaking an arm and starting a fire.
In other career news, Sid recently got a Maths Whizz silver award from his school, and is therefore more able to prove his numeracy skills than I am. I would put him forward for the training, but he’s adamant he either wants to be an asteroid and go to space in a rocket, or remain Earth bound and be a ‘cleano winder’ [window cleaner]. Everyone’s aiming for the stars this Yuletide.
Public Service Announcement: We are shortly off to church for carols, followed by fish and chips and present wrapping. it seems statistically unlikely that you’re dashing through the snow in one whore’s open sleigh to the same carol service as us, so I shall instead take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Very Christmas, wheresoever in the Empire you may be, and a happy and healthy New Year.
Main: One of these people is my old dear as a teenager, in a dockyard drawing office.
Top inset: A hospital staircase of my acquaintance.
Lower inset: At least the dog’s comfy.