I’m sure I’m not alone, when sometimes I hear a couple of words spoken by someone just passing me by, that sets my mind on a train of thoughts which I can’t remove. Similar to the tune once heard that you can’t get rid of for days.
Two days ago, such a thing happened to me. I have been moved from one ward to another for the last few weeks, I had been promised to go home the next day. It seems as you start to get better, you are moved up a floor, I am now on the sixth floor, Cavell Ward.
As I entered the bay of five beds, I heard an old man chanting, nothing wrong with that of course, North London is Multi- cultural.
But it was the snatch of just two words, that started the train of thoughts that would dog me for the next couple of days, in the murmured outpourings of incoherent chanting, popped out lauderdale road, as clear as anyone could say, followed for the rest of day by more mumbling.
Only when he was sleeping, did it stop. Unfortunately, that was when my curiosity about lauderdaleroad was replaced by what I can only describe as a scene from ‘A night at the museum’.
The other three beds were occupied by old men who were obviously very ill, one that sounded like Alf Garnett‑my favourite TV character-. Another who only slept during the day and of course our happy chanter.
As soon as the lights went out one of them decided to go for a walk, this started a conversation with a nurse, who in herself was no shrinking violet. Mr ‘Garnett’ joined in, with very ‘Alf Garnett’ language.
This is going to be jolly, I thought, now we have three-way conversation.
Now that our happy chanter had competition, he felt he had to turn up the volume.
The remaining man, who up till now had been completely silent, tried to get out of bed, and unable to cope the nurse asked for back-up, there are now six voices trying to be heard.
As I pulled the covers over me, another word from our happy chanter came over loud and clear, ‘pelhamstreet ‘.
Now I’ll never get to sleep, but I remember the sun rising before I finally dozed off.
The next day I was told I should really stay another night, but I declined.
This morning, after a good nights sleep in my own bed, I woke to the sound our boys going to school.
Some time ago I bought two yards of material, I now use as a throw on my bed. It had a road map of London printed on it, I was just browsing over the names of the roads printed on it and there was Lauderdale Road, and after a few minutes I found Pelham Street.
I think our happy chanter was probably not religious at all, but a retired London Taxi Driver rehearsing ‘The Knowledge’, which I’m sure he never need again.
He certainly took me round the longest way though.