WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward
In recent times I seem to have been visiting hospitals and other similar establishments for assorted bits n bobs, check-ups and crystal ball gazing in my own interests plus visiting folk in there and hearing about the state of the meal arrangements and finally how they are getting on, usually in that order of play. Before all this starts though, the initial stage of taking part in surreal games of playing musical chairs in their esteemed car parks with the ultimate prize of an unspecified stay in one of their chosen rooms with no doubt a delightful line in rubber wallpaper.
The simple process of finding a space to car is now a major operation (pun intended) when trying to find a parking space in the miniscule car park and one in particular I have used of late operates on a perverse ‘one way’ system’ in that even if a car is vacating a space a row or two down, you have to leave the car park and re-enter to take that space but usually it’s taken by a car about six or seven vehicles back from you that is also playing along to the Wizard of Oz formula of ‘following the (theoretical) yellow brick road’ line of thought.
Then the ‘charges’ are another thing as the whole joke about being ‘charged for fresh air’ is a reality as that is what we are paying for, a space in the atmosphere. Bearing in mind the state of the said car park surfaces looking like a war zone with their own breed of pot-holes and the cost of parking on it, perhaps the state of the ground of the Tarmac or whatever covering could be looked into as opposed to the shiny newish signs that sprout everywhere. With all the money taken, in real terms it could well afford a multi-storey car park on the same area by now.
I think we are spoilt at times when I look back over the years to another age when things were not quite so ‘hi-tec’ as they are now and perhaps the big difference is they did not mess about in years gone by with piles of printed paper, forms and obscure job or position titles as they do nowadays that usually overstate the glaringly obvious but it must keep the print, paper and badge making world going so its not all bad news.
I well remember working in an engineering firm in my early years and three of us then ‘young ‘uns’, Pete, Rob and myself were told to report to the company doctor or rather the doctor who played golf with our boss for a ‘company medical examination’ and it was basically a case of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll put some ointment on it’ type of arrangement so to speak.
We were to report at the said doctor’s surgery the next day at 2-00pm or fourteen hundred hours in new money, and we duly arrived together on time and presented ourselves to his receptionist, Miss Phrint, as instructed and once she checked her appointments book – no compootah’s then - we were told us to seat ourselves down and wait as she tottered off to let the great man know we were there.
She came back through with what can be best described as somebody looking like a victim of a 1930’s fashion parade that was cancelled half way through the event as his dress or appearance was a bit over the top for a doctor or were we witnessing a new trend towards doctors and their working apparel? Rob leaned over and whispered why we were not told it was fancy dress as we could have made the effort as well.
The thing that also set him apart from other doctors I had seen so far in my then young years was the cigarette in his mouth that he seemed to be able to speak a word then suck in smoke, speak a word then blow smoke out then another word - you get the general picture I assume – was perhaps some form of revolutionary or pioneering advancement into steam engine design as he then guided us through to his ‘surgery’ or rather with all the smoke present, it could easily have given the boiler room of the Queen Mary a run for its money.
As he sunk into his deep leather button back chair, he confessed all – he was ‘rather busy’ or rather he had a game of golf he was going on to and he spoke: ‘So chaps - do we really want to mess about(?!) with the ‘usual’ long, protracted medical or the super quick one?’ As he pointed out we could have the afternoon to ourselves with the time saved and a quick nod of agreement among us meant we opted for Plan B, the sooper dooper quick one and a visit to the local café for a coffee was mentally pencilled in.
So with him still sucking and belching out smoke between random words, this consisted of the following and was light years ahead of anything I have encountered since – hopefully. We stood there in a line as he asked us to put our tongues out; he quickly scanned an eyeball across them and they passed with assorted colours it seems as the ciggie smoke would have killed off any form of bacteria.
Next was the ‘oral’ test. We were asked collectively in a three stage process as in; A, were we able to cough? – Yes we replied in unison and then on to question B, Could we spit (!)? to which we all replied Yes again and now the final one, question C, Could we all perform the function of flatulence? (I have cleaned that one up but I assume you get the general idea and a clue here is it’s nothing to do with pressing flowers into books..) and Pete bravely asked: ‘What, now? – I haven’t anything ready...’.
Once that was sorted as a united Yes on all three questions, he told us that if we could perform all of these basic bodily functions, then we were fit and able lads to his mind, then he signed a few forms for us to take back to work and he departed to the golf club as it dawned on us he was in his golfing kit already so a fair idea as to how we were going to agree to – the silver tongued devil!. We left the surgery as he was just coming out the side entrance in his Jaguar and then sped up the road and it was a close thing as to who was expelling the most smoke, him or the exhaust pipe on the said car?
In today’s world his smoking would perhaps constitute a hanging offence.
For our part in helping the NHS to sustain itself during those years and help the golfing world being vibrant plus keep assorted fancy dress shops in custom, we then popped into the local café for a coffee and discussed what had gone on and I remember saying would anybody believe us as to what happened in years to come?
Answers on postcard, usual address please.