Celtic Illumination, part 400, Das Gespenst, der Ingenieur und der Krankenwagen Mann.
I know that a lot of you, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but I do know that a lot of you like to pretend that you are cultured. This allows us to communicate on a similar level, or at least allows you to pretend that you are on a similar intellectual level as myself, almost. I’m sure it would take a normal person five or six minutes to read each blog, but I do know that many of you spend hours each day looking up the various literary references I put in to liven things up. So for those among you who are really cultured, I expect that you will have seen the magnificent film Das Boot, made in 1981. I also expect that you will have watched the original German version, like all right thinking people will have done. There were many wonderful characters in the film but I would ask you to think about the Obermaschinist, Johann. Johann was also known as Das Gespenst, The Ghost, and dearly loved the engines of the U Boat. Now you remember him, he looked like a scarecrow that just had fifty thousand volts DC applied to his backside.
It was when they were attacked by two destroyers and sank off the Gibraltar coast, don’t worry I’m not giving the story away for any Heathens amongst you who haven’t seen and loved this film, but if you remember the blind panic that Johann, Das Gespenst, went in to that is how I felt inside my head as Pauline stood standing there in our front living, sitting, drawing, parlour, room telling me that she had ordered an ambulance to take me to hospital. I mean there was nothing wrong with me, much, apart from the old Man Flu, all I needed was some magic little pill and everything would have been sorted. After all, she was a medic; she should know things like this. It was as if she was speaking a foreign language. The more advanced cultural geeks among you would now expect me to mention the fact that Johann, Das Gespenst, spoke Austro-Bavarian in the movie rather than the more common Thuringian dialect that most of the crew spoke. But let’s not get in to a discussion about German dialects, all thirty five of them if you exclude the Frisian and Dutch dialects, when we have much more important matters to discuss like me.
So; level one, blind panic had been achieved, rather quickly one might add, and confusion was trying to take over. I used the old technique I had formulated when I was imprisoned at Violent Hell and would be receiving a vicious beating from a priest, or priests, as they occasionally liked to tag team on us little boys. All for my own good I might add. I’m going to have to sit down one day and work out exactly what or how I, as an eleven year old boy, benefited from having a forty year old man beat me silly with a four foot long bamboo cane. Perhaps he was trying to pass some of his Christianity on to me through physical contact, who knows what they were up to. I began to think what I needed for my impending trip to hospital. Once again, like answering the front door, despite the fact that I was about to be lashed to a trolley and be ferried away to hospital, this was no excuse to lower or forget about standards. Go to the previous blog and use the link to Debrett’s guide for social incompetents if you don’t believe me.
First of all was what I should wear, as you all know, and as Mark Twain famously told us, clothes maketh the man. I would be meeting consultants and surgeons and the like and would need to make an immediate and good impression on them. Despite my clear train of thought I had one slight problem which was that all my clothes were upstairs and I wasn’t. Not only wasn’t I upstairs but there was no way on Gods earth that I was getting upstairs either. Pauline is now informing me that I would be on my way within two hours. I now had to accept one of the most difficult facts and situations that all men face now and again, which was to admit that I needed some help. I could probably make it up the stairs, collect all the necessary stuff and get back down again within two hours but the ambulance was arriving within the next two hours, not in two hours’ time.
I telephoned Irene. Ansaphone. I telephoned number one son, Gerard. Ansaphone. The only other person who was close enough and who could help me was son number three, Charles. I telephoned him. Ansaphone. Strange that for the first time in your life, when you actually are prepared to ask for help there’s no one there, this is probably why most men are reluctant to ask for any form of help in the first feckin place. I tried to think what else I should take with me and settled for the top three books off my current reading pile. Pauline has now left, gone back to the medical centre where she would arrange things. I’m not sure what she was arranging but she was wittering on about district nurses coming for blood and that the medical centre was closed on Wednesday afternoons. It was as I began to prepare myself to stand up that the telephone rang.
It was Irene wanting to know what all the panic was about. I waited as she told me off because by telephoning three people, I had panicked and everyone was now worried. I assured her that there was no panic neither was there any cause for panic, all that was happening was that I was off to hospital, probably for the afternoon where I would be given a little white pill, have a nice chat with a couple of consultants or surgeons and everything would be tickety boo. I asked if she could come home for five minutes and help me get a bag together. I find it strange that the Whirling Dervish tells me that I am the one in a panic when she arrives home five minutes before she left work, in a cloud of burning rubber, smoke and screeches that would scare the bejesus out of an itinerant banshee.
The ambulance man arrived before Irene had filled the bag. I didn’t expect to be kept in but still had some pyjamas packed, along with the old toothbrush, assorted cravats and bow ties. Remember you must never lower your standards. The ambulance man wasn’t an ambulance man; in fact he was a ‘First responder.’ The first responder gets to the casualty and determines how sick they actually are and can prepare the ambulance crew who would be racing toward the patient. Just to show me how good he was he contacted the actual ambulance, the big van thing, cause he arrived in an estate car, and asked them how long they were going to be as if it was necessary to get me to the hospital on time, Ding dong the bells are going to chime. He wrapped something around my arm and inflated it, then stuck something in my ear and then jammed a plastic clothes peg type thing on my finger. It wasn’t wine and chocolates but he certainly was a nice man.
Then he started to write things down and I felt a little uneasy as it had been a sort of rolling news story during the recent weeks that your medical records were now going to be sold to anyone with enough of the old folding stuff. So I knew that whatever was written about me would, in a couple of years’ time, be plastered all over the newspaper front pages, if I put one of the proverbial feet in the wrong place, as if such a thing could happen with legs like mine. So I would have to be careful with whatever I said or admitted. Strange that I was thinking now about what I might have to say in a few years’ time. The real ambulance team arrived, effectively blocking the street and ensuring that every available neighbour would be curtain twitching. They too wanted to wrap things around my arm and inflate them but the other fellow assured them that he had done all that, all they had to do was get me in the van and off to hospital.
Hospitals are run by civilians as are the rescue and response services, so it was no real surprise to learn that I was to travel to the furthest hospital in my region rather than the one that was three or four miles away. They didn’t hang about and chivvied me from my big leather seating thing in the room at the front of our house, across the front lawns, and in to their beast of a vehicle. They made me get on to the bed type trolley thing and then strapped me in. The last time I had been in the back of an ambulance would have been on the A5 in North Welsh Wales, in a mad convoy, breaking every rule of the road and racing a helicopter to the casualty. This time there was no explosions or flash, bang, wallops, no Docker figuring out which way the wind doth blow, no excitement or adrenalin rush. This time everything was much more placid, more refined, as perhaps it should be. We arrived. As the rear doors swung open and I began to descend, on the lift, I realised that this time things might be getting a little bit serious.