Monday, 6 December 2010

The Prisoner of Guantanamo Orange

We had our own room behind a paper curtain and we waited as you do in hospitals. They are centres of excellence for waiting and I've put in a lot of hours waiting in hospitals at one point clocking up a 12 hour stint in A & E that was so boring and frightening as I worked my way from five in the evening to five in the morning that I became spaced-out and hysterical, laughing like a nervous jackal as the doctor showed me my own femur through the green hole in my leg. So we waited. Gradually doctors arrived, did various stroke tests, banged Kelly with wooden mallets and went away again. Then an oncologist arrived and did the same thing with slightly more authority.

A begged egg sandwich and a cup of tea arrived, stolen by a friendly Dub nurse who looked and sounded like he could have roadied for The Boomtown Rats. He then took us to the ward on the 11th floor. And then I had to leave Kelly for another night in hospital in her Guantanamo orange pyjamas.

It was hard to leave. Not least because the Royal Free locks all but one of it's exits at night- I wandered the corridors for the next twenty minutes, clattering up and down the corridors, like "The Prisoner" without the fanfaring bongotastic theme tune, angrily shouting and laughing hysterically at the shit art on the walls, somewhere between imperial period MacGoohan and a helium filled Alexis Kanner. There was nobody about, every exit was closed to me - it was a ghost hospital!

Eventually, desperately, I span around a corner and almost crashed into a man ferrying a corpse on a trolley. I have never been so please to see a man with a dead body in my life.

"Please," I said, "please, is there a way out of here?"

"Over there," he said, gesturing over his shoulder. And he was right. I followed the thumbs rule, headed out through the double-door and into the icy night. Belsize Park on a freezing Sunday evening, with no taxis, trains or buses in sight. It was a long walk home.

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