David Banks: Hospital stay makes for sleepless nights

Lack of sleep is what keeps me awake worrying all night. That, and the Man in the Next Bed

Nurses attending to a patient in hospital
Nurses attending to a patient in hospital

No, he doesn’t talk or shout Tourette’s slogans that pierce the hours of darkness like knives; that’s the work of the Gentleman Opposite, who appears to dislike the Pope – based on an intimate knowledge of the circumstances of the Holy Father’s birth – supports Hearts and has “a thing” about Opus Dei.

He babbles about assassination: I just hope he’s talking Hearts and not the Holy Father.

The trouble with the Man in the Next Bed is that ward television goes on full blast (he’s profoundly deaf) at seven in the morning and rolls through the afternoon and evening until his thin, 90-year-old frame is locked safe in the arms of Morpheus and the Nark of the Night dares creep below his line
of vision to detonate the off switch.

We had a meeting while he was in the loo (it takes a while) and tried to formulate a policy.

Ask him to lower the sound and use the text service? He’s 90, profoundly deaf and can barely see the screen. Let alone read the small print.

Suggest he leave out the daytime TV and only bring the set to life for the Six O’Clock News?

So who was going to tell a man who manoeuvred his 20-ton munitions lorry ashore under fire two days into the Normandy invasion that he could not watch Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is for his last couple of years?

Two important points must be made: nurses and doctors make the National Health Service the proud and enviable institution that it is and, frankly, the cuts – while cruel and inappropriate in the case of nursing staff – do not appear from this patient’s bedside view to have drastically reduced the hospitals’ ability to provide the necessary funding for drugs and treatments.

Truth be told, I am in a position more fortunate that most: I pay £440 a month to a private health company which I never use.

It is, if you like, a superstitious addiction to an occupational funding which paid for treatment for my previous bout of cancer and which I am now too embarrassed to use.

Instead, I occupy a bed on a public ward, depend on the ministrations, skills and time constraints imposed upon NHS doctors and consultants and exposed to the noise, anguish and sometimes pain-provoked animal outpourings of those around me.

(In the Forest of Luxury Private Cabins, as I recall, wealthy folk are not only insulated from the noise of falling trees but are encouraged to view such calamity as an opportunity to build yet another Rustic Log Cabin Weekend getaway).

On balance – and I don’t ALWAYS feel quite so charitable – I’ll stay with the Tourettics, thank you; there are more of them about than you might think.

And by and large they are the f-f-f-f-f-f-folk from whom I c-c-c-c-came. I still speak the language!

TELEPHONE call from Lord Rothermere’s London office as I struggle to finish this column. He wants to update my contact details. What has happened?

Has Paul Dacre gone from the Mail over the Miliband Affair?

Alas, the Young Harmsworth really does just want to update my details for his Christmas card list. Stop dreaming, has-been!

FLING Me (aka Fleece Me, Flog Me and a host of undeserved epithets from the Friday Lions racing syndicate) has added a new title to his escutcheon: Unseat Me!

The Byreman reports from Kelso: “It was a travesty, Banksy. After two miles and with two hurdles to jump he was right in the mix for a place when some clod-hopping Clydesdale brought him down!”

Trainer Rose Dobbin from Hazelrigg, whose baby Nancy crowned her first race day watching mum wave home an earlier winner, was equally dismayed at Fling Me’s rotten luck, but saw the positives – not least of them the handicap – for its next running at Carlisle on October 24.

Ill health makes me a non-owning cheerleader for the syndicate this year . . . may Rose’s loss be the bookies’ bankruptcy!


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer