I am sat in A & E listening to the chime of the 10 second bell. Despite it continuing throughout the day it hasn’t irritated me yet. Its 7pm on a friday and I’m waiting for Alex to finish work. I’m sat in the waiting chairs, the chairs patients patiently wait to be called. The ward seems to be ticking along nicely. The chairs empty regularly as they are filled.

The patients sit quietly, probably apprenhensive over their fate. But its not quiet. Here in A & E Majors there is a constant chatter at the nurses station. Doctors and nurses process the patients constantly. The doctors spent time on the phone, writing up notes or staring at computer screens deciding what to write or to diagnose.

The staff are an example of multicultural Britain. Anyone who thinks its not a success here needs to see this. If we really feel underthreat and overrun by immigrants, the NHS would collapse. Accents and colours abound. The chief organising nurse must be of Chinese descent. She stands in front of her screen calling for doctors and assigning beds.

The patients are all white and old or overweight or both. They all look pale. The porter, a staple comedian nice guy in TV soaps is tattooed, overweight and jolly. His Essex accent rings across the ward as he castigises a work colleague for paying too much. The nurses are all dressed formally or in surgical slacks. The doctors are dressed casually as if hoping to insist they are still young and spontaneous. The hierachy is unclear. Everyone is busy deciding. But no one hurries. They exists a quiet but consistent flow.

I don’t look at the patients. Their sensitivity and vulnerability doesn’t need to be highlighted. Some are wheeled past in their beds and smocks. The statistics say some of these patients won’t leave the hospital. That is their last pillow. I don’t want to speculate.

A nurse comes over holding a sheet if paper and asks my name. I tell her I’m not a patient but instead waiting for Alex. They’ve lost a patient or a relative. Possibly I look pale. I need some sun.


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