The Geriatric Ward

Kevin Crean 18/04/2018 12comments  |  Jump to last

A few weeks ago my Dad, a true Blue of '95, was recovering from illness in the geriatric ward at one of our hospitals.

His bed was one of six in a room which was given over to the care of male patients. There was a degree of to-ing and fro-ing, nobody (except Dad) stayed all that long; the majority of his temporary companions were despatched into care, a few back home, and one or two set off on a much longer journey, destination unknown.

For the most part, Dad had someone to talk to, or to be more exact, shout at. Hearing was not a strong suit amongst the inmates, however temporary they were, some even got a lot worse while they were in the ward.

It didn’t help that hearing aids went missing. In fact, the ward must have been a major contributor to the hospital’s lost property office. Hearing aids, jewellery, spectacles and false teeth came and went (one nurse even suggested they should have their names on dentures; then at least you’d know who you were talking to).

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Anyway, despite occasional communication difficulties, Dad managed to find other inmates who, like he, had worked for Cammell Lairds; sharing yarns with fellow crane drivers, fitters or boilermakers. On one occasion he snarled that he’d been in the company of a Shop Steward; it turned out it was just an unshaven hospital social worker who’d turned up wearing boots, and a rather soiled mackintosh.

The upshot was Dad spent most days in warm reminiscences with fellow patients.

It all changed though, when as luck would have it – and maybe driven by the mini flu outbreak that was abroad in the city – all five of Dad’s companions were quite poorly. In fact, the three nearest did not look good at all. The curtains around their beds were closed most of the time, and when they were drawn back they revealed the sad cases. If tubes, drips, flashing instrumental displays and attentive nurses were a measure of how sick they were, then they were all at death’s door.

By far the worst was the elderly gent directly across from my Dad; his wan complexion and drooping eyelids confirmed what his emaciated body signalled. He had tubes up both nostrils, and something stuck in his mouth.

Poor chap spent his hours comatose and, like the ward’s other incumbents at that time, was in no condition to socialise. Although, occasionally, I thought I saw an eyelid twitch, or his mouth pucker in response to shouted comments from the nurses or other ward inmates.

The staff really did their best to buoy the patients’ spirits; like the young man, originally from the Philippines, who, between visits of family members, and aware of the non-participation of the other patients, went out of his way to keep our Dad company.

On the day I showed up, he was sitting there with our dad. Despite my arrival, José tarried a while longer, entering into conversation with us; indeed he became decidedly animated when we got onto the topic that is the lifeblood of our City.

He was such a nice lad, we easily forgave him for being of the other persuasion, although I did wonder how the doings of the Kop had managed to convert him all that way away in Luzon? Still, we kept the pleasantries going about events of the season. That might have been that, however as he stood to go about his other duties, he remarked, “At least Everton now have got a good manager.”

Dad said nothing. I was scanning the lad’s face, looking for signs of the smug or the patronising, when I was distracted by a noise from the corpse-like figure over the way.

You know in that 1930s film scene, there is that sepia-tinted moment, when the doctor throws the switch, and electricity stirs Boris Karloff’s somnambulant body. Well across the aisle, a Frankenstein-like transformation was taking place; the wan, emaciated figure of this erstwhile diesel fitter had been energised into sitting upright. And, despite the tubing stuffed into his nose and mouth, he managed to gargle out, “What? Ye wha'? Fucking Sam Allardyce?? Allardyce a good fucking manager?!?

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Reader Comments (12)

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Trevor Powell
1 Posted 19/04/2018 at 07:57:57
Say it as it is... nice retort from the diesel fitter! Give him a survey sheet now!
Dermot Byrne
2 Posted 19/04/2018 at 08:12:12
A fine tale.
Martin Nicholls
3 Posted 19/04/2018 at 08:39:01
Great story, Kevin – hope your dad's getting better. If his memory is better than his hearing, ask him if he remembers a lovely guy called John Stoddart from his days at Cammel Lairds.
David Baxter
5 Posted 19/04/2018 at 10:09:49
I served my apprenticeship at Cammel Lairds as a welder. Red & Blue was 50/50. Monday morning after a derby game was fucking hilarious – no work done (as usual) – just piss-taking all day long...
Ajay Gopal
6 Posted 19/04/2018 at 10:41:13
Ha... ha... good one. To get the old geezer really out of his bed, you should have said: "Sam Allardyce has just signed a new 5-year contract with Everton"!
Steve Ferns
7 Posted 19/04/2018 at 12:59:06
Kevin, pass my regards to your father, I hope he is recovering well. That was an enjoyable read.
Steve Hogan
8 Posted 19/04/2018 at 14:25:19
Funny article, almost like a script from a sit-com. Hope your Dad gets better soon.
Alan J Thompson
9 Posted 19/04/2018 at 16:26:54
"Diesel not do for us."

May your father enjoy a full recovery.

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

10 Posted 19/04/2018 at 20:13:20
Cracking tale!

Genuine LOL moment.

If Sam Allardyce gets wind of it, he'll add it to his CV of 'unlikely resuscitations!'

Kevin Crean
11 Posted 19/04/2018 at 22:13:30
Thank you all; Dad has pulled round and is back to shouting at Everton on TV. Am away at the moment, but when I get back will ask him about John Stoddart (funny the director of Hull College of HE, in 1980s) had same moniker and did hail from Merseyside).
Dave Abrahams
12 Posted 19/04/2018 at 22:23:58
Lovely story, Kevin, had me smiling right through and laughing out loud at the end.

Good luck to you and your dad.

Tony Heron
13 Posted 20/04/2018 at 12:27:51
Fabulous. One of the best articles I've seen on TW. Still laughing now. Best wishes to your Dad.

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