I don't work any more because I don't work any more.
I still hate Mondays.
“Please be ready to leave two hours before your appointment,” warned the patient transport coordinator. The first appointment was a CT scan at 9.20. The lovely driver arrived at 8.15. This is still the middle of the night for me. I love that night owl bit when all is quiet and the air is still. Outside in the darkness was the gentle patter of summer drizzle, scattering the ground with a million and one dew drops.
I was deep into a crossword, enjoying the softly lit solitude. The alarm was set.
“Alarm will sound in 2 hours 54 minutes,” said the phone.
I don’t make things difficult on purpose but I’m not prepared to sacrifice the genuine peace and solitude of my early hour vigils. Civilised hours may well help early mornings but I’ve tried all sorts.
Before midnight and up by seven usually involves going out to earn a living. No thanks. Bed by ten and up at five? Did it for four years. Going to bed when the yawns are frequent? Who cares if the dawn chorus has started? But needs must.
The main problem is staying awake in the early evening. Hang on, the main problem was staying awake in the waiting room waiting for the patient transport to return.
This morning, I was able to get into the ambulance after a nice big fat juicy cup of tea.
“We have 2 others to pick up,” mentioned the driver.
Palesgate Lane first. Now, for the northerners amongst us, it is only possible to appreciate the beauty of Palesgate Lane if you hear it spoken by a local; a Sussex boy, born and bred in Crowborough.
“Piles gight line,” is a poor written example.
It does not include the sense of pace or oneness of the whole term. As for the lane itself; it starts off as a narrow country way beset by potholes (natch), fords and corrugated fencing behind which are the howls and barks of feral dogs.
Up some of the side lanes, you can see the wonders of neglected vehicles; vast heaps of rust and perished rubber.
Remember the scrapped car in Onslow’s driveway?
It came with its own wild canine beast. Hyacinth never learnt.
After that, we see the grand sight of Jarvis Brook Juniors Football Club before it emerges as some backwater of assorted houses. A truly forgotten land where parking laws do not exist. The ambulance crept into a little cul-de-sac.
The driver paused. “Twenty six?” she mused.
Without warning a pair of silver stalkers appeared, trying every door of the vehicle. This brief frantic siege ended as the driver, now steaming a little from the ears in the constant rain, alighted to inform our grappling pair that only she could let them in.
They finally boarded. I was blanked. This is what we have come to expect from the lifelong Palesgate Laners.
“Our next pick up is only five minutes away.” The driver was obviously trying to lift the mood. Climbing up from the Eridge dip it began to sink in: We were going to The Forstal. Yet another snaking lane of forgotten houses. Yet another pit of unknown quantities.
Would we escape in time for my appointment? The house was not marked with any name or number. Then it was announced; “The old schoolhouse!”
We were picking up Bernard. Let me explain: In the nineties, I would pop into the Huntsman every Friday for a drink. Early doors; you know, straight from work. In my case, it was post work and post horse ride.
What a great way to end the week. Chatting with mates was great but I knew that Bernard would arrive. Pat, his partner was a glamorous antique dealer. She was lovely but Bernard would corner me with a bagful of contention.
He assumed everyone was out to get him and he crowed about his ability to spot such deception and stay intact. He only ever bought one pint but it would last for over an hour. When he left the whole pub sighed and I was given glances of sympathy.
Fortunately, today, he didn’t recognise me and I pretended to be asleep. He took ages so I was late for my appointment. If I can be ready on time, so can he.
The timing of my appointment wasn’t crucial. The CT scan began with hapless attempts to set up a cannula.
“Oh no,” my veins were a little reticent. They gave up.
The MRI was small town. The proper unit was having refurbishment so I had to use the one in a trailer outside. (It was pissing down.) One nurse produced a big umbrella. I thought it was kind until we went outside and I got drenched whilst she used it for herself; can’t spoil the hair, can we? Having transferred into a pushchair with no footplate we struggled across 15 meters on a rug of concrete before I was stuck n a ramp to take me into the trailer.
I love the NHS. I love the staff but this was comical. In the end,
I had two hours to wait before transport. Time for a nice warm pepperoni calzoni in the hospital cafe. The Times crossword took half an hour so I retreated back to x-ray to meet the ambulance driver. Strangely enough, I witnessed Bernard playing merry hell at reception demanding transport home. (Tosser) I fell asleep and was home by three o’clock where I fell asleep again. I’m hoping the cancer pathway is nearing its end. Will there be an operation? Probably. But it should be the end.