They Were Greek

When they said ‘Colchester’, I dug my heels in. I’d rather, I said, be ill than go to that hospital again.
‘That bad?’ said Dr Ada McMahon.
I nodded.
An hour later, they were on the phone again, having got me an appointment for the next day, at Ipswich.
I’d heard of the 92 bus which went, allegedly, from Manningtree to Ipswich. I got the 11.11 from outside the Thorn, and just arrived in time to see the 92 leave… So, 59 minutes delay, but I’d foreseen this, and so I went to Howells and De’Ath’s and met Mrs Crowhurst at the cashpoint with her fourth grandchild. She always remembered J in reception, she said. Everybody was bringing something in, aged four, and he brought in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – and then proceeded to read it! And she thought (atypically for Tattingstone): What have we here?
She wanted to know how we got such an intelligent child. I said: ‘Well, I was bright, and so is K. But J is off the scale…’
I was back at the bus stop in time. The route the 92 takes to Ipswich is bizarre (via Stutton and Holbrook), but it passes the time. And in Ipswich it goes to the Old Cattle Market Bus Station – into the realm of the cider drinkers.
Eventually, after a third bus, I was at the hospital – after ‘only’ three hours (or two if the Manningtree changeover had been better handled). I still had half an hour to spare, and was pleased to see that a porter stopped to ask me if I was lost, that Ipswich Hospital provides squash to drink for waiting patients (‘Five stars,’ I told the Asian receptionist) and the sun was shining. Even the paintings on the wall were better. (A Boudin. You can imagine Satie in Honfleur…)
I was summoned to Ultrasound by Lyn (50s), who doubtless has a more rarefied title, but whom ‘usherette’ describes perfectly. Cathy (30s) was doing the scan on my right thigh. It was, inevitably, negative. As most of the patients seeing them would have been pregnant, I said I was very relieved not to be having a baby. Lyn and Cathy smiled.
I don’t know why, but I went on: ‘I could have been pregnant like Zeus was with Dionysus. He gave birth to him from his thigh.’
Whereupon Lyn admitted she was confused.
‘It was three thousand years ago,’ I said. ‘They were Greek!’
It was half past three when I got out. Barbara was on until four. I walked, slowly, through sunlit corridors to Clinic K: Orthotics.
I told Barbara that I had written a blog about her – not in a creepy way. I thought she’d enjoy it. Which I think she will…
She said: ‘Is the hospital a second home?’
I said: ‘The ultrasound was negative. So: good news again! But my foot’s still swollen…’


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I had a stroke on July 26th, 2013. I was a screenwriter. Don’t do that anymore. But have found another way to write.

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