scratching on the break

It’s a rare moment, finding ourselves suddenly quiet like this, in the eye of the day’s hurricane, sitting with (almost) nothing to do, no new referrals to triage, old referrals to discharge; no carers or clinicians on the phone; no ragged lines of people waiting to handover; no doctors on-hold waiting to conference call another complicated care scenario; no wards pressing for capacity updates; no families wanting information, direction, confirmation, reassurance, answers… in short, the usual engulfing swirl that constitutes normal in the office of the rapid response team.
‘How was your day off?’
Michaela takes her face out of her hands and gives me a weary smile.
‘It was – weird,’ she says.
‘In what way?’
‘Well, Graham had some annual leave, so we thought what the hell, we’ll make a day of it. He’d never been horse racing, so I said why don’t we have lunch at the track? When we got there I saw this horse called Lazy Days, which was obviously a sign, so I put twenty pounds on – and won!’
‘When we eventually made it out of there it was later than we thought. I had a pool tournament that evening, way over the other side of town, and we were just thinking how to get there, and why don’t we blow our winnings on a taxi instead of the bus, when we were kidnapped by a gang of kids in a limo.’
‘What d’you mean, kidnapped? What kids?’
‘Not kids exactly. A mixture of ages. Turns out it was a stag do. This limo pulled over, the window went down, and this kid stuck his head out and asked me if we were married. Yes, I said, who wants to know? How long, he said. Twenty years, I said. Right, he said, in! And they all poured out of the limo and bundled us inside. It was very friendly, though. When we were in the back they gave us some drinks, and we all drove over to that casino the other side of town – which suited me, because it wasn’t too far from where the tournament was. Anyway, there we were in the casino, having a laugh, a few drinks, something to eat. And then I thought – why don’t I play the slots and calm myself down a bit? So I went over and sat down, and I hadn’t been there five minutes when the manager came over. Are you a member? he said. Yes, I said, and I showed him my card. It was a bit of luck I had it on me because I only joined when I went there about five years ago, and I haven’t been back since. Anyway, he looked at the card and then he handed it back and said Good! Because we’re running a promotion this evening and you qualify for a thousand bonus points! Which was about a hundred quid! So we played a bit more, toasted the groom about a million times and then headed off to the pool tournament.’
‘Don’t tell me – you won the trophy.’
‘Me? No! I was so pissed, I scratched on the break and followed the cue ball into the pocket.’

2 thoughts on “scratching on the break

  1. As an American, I’m just dumbfounded when I read these stories. Just the fact that there is something set up to go and provide equipment, check up on people, take blood or urine and you don’t have to leave your home amazes me. I don’t see that ever happening in the US.


  2. Hi Rosalie. I think the NHS is a fantastic achievement. I know it’s beset by problems at the moment – principally the changing demographic and the increased cost of that, and successive governments that haven’t properly addressed the issue (and a significant shortfall of investment currently) – but it’s definitely a good thing. I think as a nation we should be able to look after each other in this way. I’m a big fan of collective responsibility (individual responsibility, too, but I see the one leading from the other…).
    Thanks very much for the comment, Rosalie. I hope you have a great day today! 🙂 Jim


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