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The Patient Patient
by Roger Pattison

“It’s over here, Mr. Lump-Hammer.” The sumo nurse patted the operating table fondly with a tattooed fist. The dozing pensioner on the table scrutinised it, closely. Close scrutiny was hardly voluntary as the fist grazed the wart on the end of his nose.

“Looks like this one’s in for an operation on a squint,” said the nurse, squinting microscopically at the cross-eyed patient squinting at the tattooed onions on her wrist which could easily have been the hairy genitalia recently estranged from an Aberdeen Angus.  

Mr. Lump-Hammer turned towards the slap of the iron fist on the operating table and fell over the trolley.

“Are you sure you’re up to this job, Mr. Lump-Hammer?” said the monumental nurse. “Brain surgery does seem such a delicate business.” The pensioner on the operating table nodded like a road drill while Mr. Lump-Hammer first felt his way across the floor for his pebble specs, and then around the wall of the operating theatre, his arrival at the patient being confirmed when his outstretched hand poked him in the eye. This effectively cured the patient’s squint to the tune of total blindness. Mr. Lump-Hammer tip-toed around the theatre while quietly busking what he thought might be the tune of ‘Total Blindness’ over the Tannoy’s background of a subtle version of Lara’s Theme for massed pipe band. The patient mumbled something in counterpoint to the ensemble of Mr. Lump-Hammer and his Massed Pipe Band.

“Did you say something?” asked the nurse who was busy with her own version of ‘Lara’s Theme’ which sounded strangely like a replay of the Aberdeen Angus being separated from its livelihood.

“I said ‘I wish I were deaf’, madam.”

Mr. Lump-Hammer straightened up and in so doing brained himself on the shelf marked ‘Brain Surgery Tools’; on reaching up he retrieved a jack-plane from the shelf next to it marked ‘Maintenance’.

“Lucky you went ‘private’ Mr...err” said the nurse to the patient. “You could have been waiting a long time for this treatment.” The old man seemed unimpressed by his good fortune as he watched Mr. Lump-Hammer in a shower of sparks sharpening the jack-plane on the grinder in the corner.

Blinded pensioner who was hoping for a sudden attack of deafness, sat up on the operating table.

“You said I’d gone private? It’s the first I heard about it. Are you sure you’ve done this brain surgery thing before?”

“Well, actually, we’re NHS managers. We’re just making a few cuts on the side.”