Saturday, September 18, 2004

Life in the Nash

I’m a lucky man. I’ve a job I adore, and not many people can say that. Theatre nursing is technically challenging, but free from much of the emotional stress of nursing on the wards. The hours are congenial in comparison, and the wages sufficient to pay my mortgage. Sooner or later all the world makes it’s way through hospital, and I get to have interesting conversations with many of them as they do so.

One of the things I like most about working for the Nash is that it’s such an international organisation. As I get older I find it harder and harder to enjoy travelling abroad. Give me a weekend in Criccieth any day. The beds are never comfortable, and I get fretful when I can’t make myself understood. I find myself metamorphosing into some kind of sub standard Victor Meldrew, without the wit. I remain passionately interested in world events though, and working for the Nash gives me the opportunity to discuss them with people from the places concerned.

Occasionally spoken English is a problem, but that’s the West Midlands for you. The Filipinos usually understand what is being said sooner or later. A few years ago I worked in Cheltenham, hardly the most multi-cultural town in England. Even there, I counted nine languages spoken by two or more people in the theatre department alone, including Zulu and Afrikaans. I’d guess there are many more where I work now. At the very least it means we never have to get a translator in from outside. Besides, you can’t believe in free trade and not believe in at least some degree of freedom of movement, at least for those with marketable professional qualifications. Still the consequences are interesting sometimes.

I got talking to an Asian anaesthetist from Bradford yesterday. He’s got a face like Uday Hussein, an accent like Geoff Boycott and a wicked sense of humour that’s all Yorkshire. Apparently a couple of days earlier he had been waking up a patient after an anaesthetic when the patient had become more and more agitated. Eventually the patient was awake enough to croak, “Where am I?”

“You’re in Brummagen General Hospital” my colleague replies.

“Thank God for that!” says the patient, with transparent relief, “I thought I’d been kidnapped.”

Looking around the bed my colleague realizes that there’s not a white doctor or nurse among them. “Mind you,” he tells me with a wicked glint in his eye, “I’d still like to have seen his face if I’d said, ”You’re in the Tora Bora mountains, mate.”"

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