I have heard it said before: there is something beautiful about seeing a person in their twilight years, serene and at peace with themselves in a hospital bed.
Whereas my father looks like a pissed off man covered in probes.
“Hullo!” I beam at him. “What happened to you?”
He shakes his head and rolls his eyes. “Nice probes,” I add. The things are sellotaped all over him. It is quite impressive.
“Absolutely nothing happened to me,” he complains. “One minute my blood pressure dropped a bit, so I felt a bit faint. But because I was standing on the stairs, it got all spectacular. If I’d have been sitting down in an armchair then nobody would have taken any notice.”
I study his probes. “It is quite bad luck that you weren’t in an armchair at the time,” I agree. “What were the chances of that?”
A nurse wanders by and gives my father a selection of studious pokes. “We should have you out of here in three or four days!” she promises.
“Three or four days?!?” he replies in alarm.
I look at my watch. “Well, time is getting on. Did you sleep well, by the way?”
My father glares at me. “What, with all these bloody probes?”
The Hospital Meal Operative approaches with her trolley. She passes over a card, which contains meal options and some instructions to place a tick beside the items required. My father studies the card with the out-and-out enthusiasm of a Christopher Hitchens addressing a creative writing group of left-leaning scampi.
He finally places a tick in a box. The Operative takes the card from him. “You’ve written on the card!” she laughs. “You’re not meant to tick on here – this is for the whole ward!”
“But it says to ti…”
“Look! He’s gone and ticked on the card!” she announces to the ward, before turning back to him with pitying eyes. “Don’t worry love, we’ll sort it anyway.”
“It clearly says to ti…”
“What are you having, anyway, love?” She stares hard at the card. “You’re having the pie, but you’ve not said what sort of potatoes.” She turns to us. “He’s not said what sort of potatoes.”
“I don’t really want any potatoes.”
“No potatoes?!?” She turns to us. “He doesn’t want any potatoes?” She turns to the ward. “Pie but with no potatoes! Oh, you are a one.” She reaches for a loudhailer, throws the window open and announces across the plains of South East Essex “no potatoes! You see he has ordered pie, but has not taken the potato option!!! Honestly!!!”
“Are you sure?” she adds.
My father looks on helplessly.
“Anyway, it’s been good to see that you’re ok,” I say. “I’ll leave you to it – I was planning on going to the pub for lunch.” I take my leave and go to the pub for my lunch. It is good to know that he is in capable hands.