Jean Paul Sartre said that “Hell is other people”. I can be more specific. Hell is other people waiting for specialist heart nurse in Kingston Hospital. An hour later I found out it was an appointment I didn’t need. In the meantime I watch the dead and dying wait to be given a number and their time of departure.
Heading inferno’s cast is a well built, almost fat pasty faced woman of about 45. Her greasy hair tied back tight in a short pig tail. She looks like everyone’s nightmare step mother. She is nervous, she is used to getting her way. Maybe she needs a cigarette, judging by the puffy face she might even like a drink. It is 11.15 and many pubs and off licences on the Roehampton housing estate are already at work.
Within five minutes she back at the reception counter making sure they haven’t forgotten. Five minutes, Get real this is the NHS. She sighs loudly. She rummages in her large bag. Whatever she is looking for she can’t find. She shakes her feet. She crosses her plump legginged limbs. Crosses again., sighs again. Then it’s the phone.
It’s the doctor. Why cant I have the prescription. Look I am a busy woman. Look you know me just leave the prescription. Doctor I haven’t got time. Alright I’ll be there at 2.
More sighs. More leg crossing. She changes places. She sits opposite me. Am I the chosen one? I try and make myself smaller and hide behind my book. On the phone again. Look you said you would pick up the kids. You said. You are always letting me down. Why don’t you pull your weight. They are your kids as well. I know you have a job. Alright have it your way.
The whole waiting room daren’t look up. She is cruising for a bruising and we are the sick and dying. We know what eye contact might mean with this Boadicea. I make a mistake. I make two mistakes. Out of pure bravado I look up and I smile.
What are you smiling at. I am speechless. Whats left of my heart beats faster. We are not in the same weight class, under any civilised rules we would not be allowed in the ring together. But I don’t think she is interested in the Marquis of Queensbury. Cage fighting is more her style.
I meekly state I too am tired of waiting and would she like a cup of tea. No I’m fine says my new best friend. The oldest man died recently in Bolivia at 123, I sometimes doubt whether its worth making the weekend.