This isn’t science fiction but it feels like it. An white-haired old woman comes in. “About 70 of them” she says “we’ll come back.” She leaves. The number ticks up, the beeper beeps twice. Most of the room just sits there. It’s hard to remember, but most people are used to just doing nothing. Just sitting and staring, barely thinking, barely looking.

The number ticks up, the beeper beeps twice. Eyes focused on arbitrary points they sit in the tight-crammed seats, the smells of each other’s dinners washing over them, hot. A few souls have brought things to read and focus exclusively on them. There’s no jealousy or anger from the others, just resignation.

The number ticks up, the beeper beeps twice.

td_10_11_2011_waiting_room_10The number ticks up, the beeper beeps twice. The most common expression is a jutted jaw and blobbed out cheeks, eyebrows and eyes flat. A voice from the back of the room “Who wants to swap tickets with me?” then when there’s no reaction, not even a turned head, laughs uncertainly. “Twenty quid” he says. I turn to look at him. Long white hair, old red beret, wolfish smile. My face says nothing and he turns and leaves. The mix of the room is odd. Mainly ethnic minorities, 1 in 10 Caucasian. Lots of big-featured faces, Jewish ladies with wigs covering their foreheads low, fat-faced African ladies, some talking to themselves, a single tall headscarfed woman looking uncomfortable on the front row.

The number ticks up, the beeper beeps twice. More people shuffle in, get tickets from the queueing machine pilfered from a supermarket deli counter. In the hour I’ve been here, the number has ticked up twenty times. My number is still 37 away. I really don’t want my bloodwork done. I don’t like the normality or false camaraderie that injections enjoy. But I really want this to be over and done with.

The number ticks up, the beeper beeps twice. A short mid-40s lady with dyed blond hair walks in, wearing a nurse’s uniform; “Can you loosen your clothing please and roll your sleeve up, so we can be ready to bleed you as quickly as possible?” then retreats, chin up, into the glass clinic door. The seventy or so people look confused – no-one does it. A homely cockney lady in the row behind me starts letting her neighbours (and inadvertently everyone else) know that “They’re usually quicker than this. There’s a lot of people.” Red-beret rogue is laughing bow-legged as he tells stories.

The number ticks up, the beeper beeps twice. A tall man leaves, relieved. His results aren’t in, but he’s obviously feeling better for just getting out of there. A collapsed-looking old lady is wheeled out of the clinic, asking for the toilet.

The number ticks up, the beeper beeps twice. I could have been here forever. My former life, as convincing as it is, could have been a dream. I could be here forever, the beeps spreading out, the event horizon approaching. I am going to be here a long, long time.

The number ticks up, the beeper beeps twice.

She’s Un’armed, Folks!

Dear Maria got up at 5am this morning, so she could get to work for 7. On a Saturday. That’s retail! I spent the afternoon with a plumber, getting our boiler fixed. Her work day done, at 4.30pm we met at Daunt Books in Belsize Park, to go and give Christmas presents to my auntie and cousin, and have a nice dinner.

At 4.35, I was ringing for an ambulance, as Maria had fallen awkwardly on a un-gritted path and bent  her arm the wrong way. At 11.30pm, we finally left the hospital, after a Doctor had finally popped her arm back on. He was rather impressed with her, as her arm should have snapped but the Ulna had popped out instead, twisting around to the side, and then she’d taken half again the usual dose of morphine to go under. (Needless to say, she’s sleeping like a babe now, a fresh plaster cast adorning her.)

Anyway, this is merely to say – I won’t be doing a usual one-a-day post today. I thought this year was meant to be better than 2009?