Friday, 8 August 2014

She Runs a Tight Ship

Outside it's 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the scorching early-July sun is still high in the sky - it wont get dark 'till nearly 10PM. The Saturday afternoon shoppers buzz like bees around the stalls in the market place in front of The Corn Exchange, holidaymakers lounge beneath red and white umbrellas outside picturesque pubs lazily supping cider, ales and wine. Incensed, the locals steam behind the steering-wheels of their cars bemoaning the permanent near-gridlocked tailback snaking back and forth through the narrow streets from one end of the market town to the other - a constant carnival parade of tourists; horns sound, angry remarks rend the air, a police siren screams irritatedly. And all this against the background of the constant rumble of the motorway which was built far too close to the edge of the chocolate-box hamlet.

In here, on HER ward, all is deathly quiet, only the tap, tap, tap of her heels on the lino and the hollow, resonant tock, tock, tock of the wall clock she had installed - the time it gives is what SHE calls 'hospital time'; it has nothing to do with the world at large; 'bedtime' here is when SHE says it is, when the 'night bell' rings, a healthy dose of sedetives and sleeping pills helping to ensure sleep comes quickly. The routine has little to do with circadian rhythms and much more to do with staffing levels and shift patterns.

All is neat and tidy and stripped of anything and everything not ENTIRELY essential to the care of 'difficult' girl's in their late teens to early twenties. Thus there are six caged beds with six plastic chairs, one alongside each, and six enamel bedpans, one perched on each chair. There is a desk and chair at one end forming the nurse's station - and that's about it. There IS ONE other thing present - on a hook on the wall behind the nurse's station hangs a slender, wickedly pliant crook-handled cane. Under HER influence corporal punishment has been introduced - they've given her a free hand, so why not? Glancing up at the clock, presently showing ten thirty, she smiles to herself. She knows that strident, insistent ticking is driving certain of the girls to distraction, but if that encourages certain individuals to accept the medication she is keen to introduce, so be it


Anonymous said...

The expression on her face is just perfect. A pretty young woman who seems kind and gentle at first glance. Surely she is a caring soul, the sort that one can pour out one's troubles to. Perhaps even provide a shoulder to cry on in troubled times. But look closer and you detect a hint of steel behind those bright eyes. And the uniform, so crisp and white and stark, heavy with the authority of her office combined with the stance, hands carefully folded behind her back, lips not quite smiling suggest that she is already eyeing you up, wondering how loud you would howl when inevitably she will lay her cane across your bared bottom. How hard will you try to convince her that you have learned your lesson? You will be the most obedient and compliant of patients for your stern and strict nurse?

Vlad said...

You are doing quite well in the face of internet adversity. This is strongly reminiscent of Institutionalized 3, an environment I would love to have you revisit.
I also spotted a picture on Tumblr that could almost be an illustration for one of your stories.

Greg B. said...

Vlad: That pic is from episode 5 of PENNY DREADFUL, if you're interested.

Toyntanen said...

Hi Vlad!

I searched for that pic but could find nothing (entered the URL into my browser, searched Google and searched Tumblr itself - where I have another blog, if you've not seen it). If you have it saved someplace please email it to me:

Hi Greg B!

What pray tell is PENNY DREADFUL? Is it something I should know / be interested in / excited by? I certainly find the image exciting! I think I found it on Tumblr somewhere - added the caption for my own entertainment.