The half-dozen Walkmans that used to live on this ward, bought by a charity for the use of the patients, were walked off with in a matter of days. The next batch, if the charity decides to replace them, will have to be chained down, I expect, like books in a medieval library.

At least the television in my lover’s room has a remote control; that’s something. There used to be a remote for every room on the ward, but one or two have also gone walkies. Replacing them isn’t a high medical priority, though perhaps it should be. Life on this ward can seem like one big game of musical chairs, as if death, being spoiled for choice, will come by preference to the person with no flowers by the bed, with no yoghurts stashed away in the communal fridge, the person whose TV has no remote control.

A television looms larger in a hospital room than it could ever do in someone’s home. There are so few excuses not to watch it: visitors, coma. Once I came in and was shocked to see a nurse comforting my lover. She was bending over him with a tenderness that displaced me. My lover was sobbing and saying, ‘Poor Damon’; it was a while before he could make himself understood. The nurse wasn’t amused when she found out Damon was a young man on Brookside who’d just been killed.

Fellow Workers
Summers in Norfolk