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U3A Writing: Off My Trolly

...Anyway, itís a gall bladder thing - a doddle, so they tell me; one can live perfectly happily without a gall bladder. Well if thatís the case just answer me this Ė why then did the Good Lord waste his time in providing me with one in the first place?...

Patrick Hopton takes us into the dreamy world of anaesthesia.

Here I lie on a trolley, cleansed and gowned, prepared like an Inca virgin for sacrifice. I gaze up at dazzling lights, all the while aware in the periphery of my vision of sinister blue-clad figures lurking in the shadows, waiting to get at me. Ahead of me looms my ectomy. Sorry, I get all these ectomies muddled up and I canít remember which particular one is mine. Anyway, itís a gall bladder thing - a doddle, so they tell me; one can live perfectly happily without a gall bladder. Well if thatís the case just answer me this Ė why then did the Good Lord waste his time in providing me with one in the first place? Iíve a nasty feeling theyíre keeping something back from me. Be wary of them, Patrick.

That affable anaesthetist, for example. ĎYouíll be asleep before you know it, old boy,í he assured me as he thrust needle into my arm. ĎStart counting from ten backwards and youíll be knocked right out before youíre half way to nought.í

Well Iíve reached eight already and feel more wide awake than before I started. ĎSEVEN, SIX . . . í

Itís not working! ITíS NOT WORKING I TELL YOU! They canít hear me. Come to think of it I canít hear me either. Funny that!

ĎF . . . I . . . V . . .. í

Ah hah! Theyíve abandoned me on a trolley in a corridor. You read about such things all the time in the newspapers; and now itís happening to me. Just you wait: somebody in authority is going to hear about this. Hang on though! I can turn this to my advantage. Itís my chance to escape.

Magically, at the mere thought of escape Iím gliding towards that dazzlingly bright patch at the end of this dark, long, long corridor. Suddenly Iíve reached it, then Iím through it and in the car park. Strange! It didnít look like this yesterday. Now itís vast, a grey sea of cars stretching all the way to distant sunlit hills. Distant sunlit hills! The Mendips surely Ė and home.

ĎYou gotta head for them thar hills,í a voice growls at me Ė a voice of gravel recalled from the mists of childhood. An old man with a long grizzly beard is sitting beside a camp fire on which a pot of beans is stewing. Gabby Hayes! The cussed old varmint, where did he come from? Beside him Roy Rogers, impossibly immaculate in a pristine cowboy outfit crowned by a white Stetson, strums a guitar as he sings softly in the flickering firelight: ĎOh lay me down on the wide prairrie.í In the background a white horse whinnies in contentment. Trigger! I remember the horseís name. Odd this, I havenít thought of any of this bunch in years! Odder still, how can their night time prairie scene be happening in the grey daylight of my car park?!

Get your act together, Patrick. Away with these distractions from childhood. Youíre supposed to be making your escape to the hills and home, remember. Run quickly. But I canít run; my limbs feel as if they have lead weights attached to them. Walk then. Thatís no good either; each footstep is a struggle. And home is miles away; itíll take forever. I know what Iíll do; itís cheating really but Iíve done it before in dreams. Of course this isnít a dream: this is real! No matter! Needs must, Iíll try it anyway.

There you are Iím flying! But I havenít got clothes on Ė only this gown thing with slits in embarrassing places. Hopefully, though, itíll cover the bits that matter. In any event I often walk around in dreams without clothes on and nobody seems to notice.

But this isnít a dream, Patrick; youíve said so already. Well itís too late now; Iím airborne and flying towards the hills.

But where have they gone? No hills any more, just a silver mist in which, rather than flying, Iím drifting weightlessly. Nothing is visible. Iím beginning to get scared. Perhaps Iíll head the wrong way. Too far left and Iíll be in mid Atlantic: too far right and Iíll end up in Siberia. Worse! I might just overshoot home and end up at the North Pole. I think Iíll descend then. Just lie on my back and spiral . . . down . . . and down . . . and down.

No more fear. I know my landing will be soft. And it is. Somebody has caught me. Hands are lifting me, sliding me; and a distant voice is calling me. ĎPatrick, can you hear me?í it asks. ĎJust rest now. Youíll be sleepy for a while.í

Sleepy! What on earth is the creature talking about? Iím wide awake! Still, Iíll pretend Iím asleep; itíll be my chance to escape. Make no mistake about it, the second they think Iíve nodded off then Iím away out of here - unectomied.

Well perhaps I feel just a tinsy winsy bit sleepy. A short nap then, before I make off. One thingís certain though: when I do make my escape thereíll be no more of this flying lark. Next time Iím taking the bus.

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