I have changed the site web address! You will automatically be redirected to www.guybrighton.com in 3 seconds. If your browser doesn't automatically load, click HERE. Guy Brighton's Wishful Thinking: THUR 4th MAR: BEARING MY CHEST, LOSING MY SOUL



I wake up in the morning and I'm lost. It's not my parent's house, it's not the Lady's New York apartment. From the sofa, I see the three hundred My Little Ponies and various barbie dolls: it's my thirty eight year old sister's flat in Westminster.

The stinging headache kicks in and I remember sitting outside my sister's front door for about an hour last night waiting for her to come home. She had to shake me awake - very little came out of my mouth that made sense. I just waited patiently for her to find a duvet and the next thing is - I awake this morning to feel like this....

It's 11 o'clock already. I wonder how on earth the others from the Market Bar last night got to work this morning. I am already fully clothed so I de-horizontalize myself and stumble to the front door. I remember the Harrods bag with goodies that a friend gave me to bring to the Lady in New York. I find it: Although a little crumpled, somehow it has survived and there is nothing leaking from it.

Soon I am walking along the street, my parker coat wrapped under one arm, the Harrods bag swinging from the other. The hair on one side of my head is matted down in the wrong direction and on the other it is spiked up - and that's just my beard.

At Victoria station a woman in a nice uniform hands me a flyer and shows me the way onto a bus. Did you know the London Big Bus tour only takes one hour twenty two minutes? Enough time for some extra shut eye.

I get off and thank the helpful lady and head for my intended destination. On the train I read the text messages of the battle I had with the friend I fell out with when we stumbled into Atlantic Bar at 1am. Did you know it's still open? It is also a long walk from Victoria Station - especially to find the station closed in the middle of the night for engineering works. The exact reason for the fall out is now a mystery and regrets set in.

At East Croydon station I realise that this is the fourth time this fortnight that I have come home looking like this. When will I grow up? I hope I don't meet an old school friend.

As the train to Caterham pulls in I hear, 'Brighton!'. I look round - it's Mr. Armstrong, my old maniac geography teacher from when I was doing my A-Levels. He looks the same except now grey. He travels with me unimpressed or maybe disbelieving my talk of living in New York. Academics only respect academics I conclude. He talks of boys from my era that I cannot remember; boys who still live locally but are some way connected to the Old Boys sporting association.

At the station he offers me a lift. The radio plays REM's 'Losing My Religion'. He drops me off at my house and I feel that I am 13 again and I've met a teacher during summer holidays. I must stop wearing hoodies and jeans and wear something else: jackets with leather elbow patches perhaps. Good bye Mr. Armstrong.

My parents are pleased to see me but I have to tell them that I'll speak later. I try to sleep but I get the fear. There's a pain in my chest that I've had since I went to (old) York and I can see the blocked valve in my heart everytime I close my eyes.

I decide to drag my self back to Croydon to a walk-in medical centre. Good old NHS.

On the bus there a guy sat behind me starts playing a game with his phone. Sound on full. When I ask if he can turn it down, he actually apologizes and turns the phone off!

Is it always the way??: whenever you go see the doctor you also happen to have been living the most unhealthy week of your life. To the nurse I describe the night before - minus the drama - and my intake of alcohol, cigarettes etc since I came to London. I become a leper - I think, if only they could read my blog they'll know that I didn't enjoy smoking so much...

When I take my top off, the nurse has trouble working out how to use the EPG machine but finally with the help of four others it's running. I feel like one of those Trekkie borgs and my blood is already running high. 'Hmmm,' she hums and then goes and consults the results with the rest of the clinic. The conclusion is that if in doubt I should pop along to the hospital to get fully tested.

I say - ok, I'll get may jacket. She stops me getting up: no, you can't go upstairs - you have chest pains. Two minutes later a paramedic walks through the door in full regalia. I get the full review about my social life - this time I am forced to admit the ten pints of Guinness, three bottles of pilsner lager, five jack and cokes and a glass of pink champagne I had last night. I decide not to mention the half of Guinness I had with my dad at the Cutty Sark pub on the river in Greenwich during the day.

Two more minutes later two ambulance women tough enough to be police officers walk into the room. I have to explain my social life to them too - luckily I am now well rehearsed. They try to make me feel bad for my behaviour but I look at them and I know they must have a good drink to relieve the pressure. A chair with wheels appears and I am asked to sit in it. It's OK, I'll just walk there. Oh no - there are rules now. I sit in it - they put a red grand-dad's blanket on me and strap me in - so I don't hurt my arms. As I am wheeled out, the ladies on reception look down at me horrified. They must be thinking, 'I know he stunk of alcohol but...'

In the ambulance they run another EPG. People ogle through the back door at all the leads connected to my naked torso. Then I am strapped in more and the blue lights go on, the siren sounds and we dash through the streets of Croydon towards Mayday Hosipital. 'Isn't this little dramatic?', I ask. But rules are rules. I imagine that we go over a lot of pavements and curbs and avoid the odd pedestrian. The driver swears at the traffic like a miner in a Geordie pub after work.

At A&E I get the old ER treatment and get banged through into the emergency ward. A kind nurse asks about my social life again as another one sticks some sort of straw in arm. I think of saying, 'oi nurse, stop giving me the needle'.

For twenty minutes I seem centre of attention. The doctor is sweet but frowns when I say that I have been away from my girlfriend and thus been out and about a bit.

The hospital's EPG comes back and says I'm clear. Getting dumped is quick here. I get shunted out into the public ward to lie alongside the old and the drunk whilst I wait three hours for my blood results. I look up at my reflection in the black glass dome of a 'hidden' camera in the dusty poly-tiled ceiling and I think, 'this is what it's going to look like when I die'.

It's hard to feel depressed for too long in a hospital becuase it is a tropical region of love. The staff are all in love with each other and the patients are all in love with the doctors and especially the nurses. What makes you fall in love with all the nurses around you? You think everyone of them are so wonderful, so kind. I feel sad for the constant flow of old people coming in altho it helps me stand out a bit in front of the nurses. Or maybe it is the hairy chest and small pot belly.

The blood test is fine. I've been there so long I fail to be relieved and I am discharged before I even get to discuss what alternative reason there may be for the pain in my chest.

Thanks to the ambulance ride, I have to ask the receptionist 'where am I?' She gives me a kind smile and says in slow English, 'It's OK dear. Would like to see a doctor?'

What a day. Makes you want to geta pint in, to get the edge off it.

March 4, 2004 in Diary, Out of Town Trips | Permalink


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