A Grand Day Out?

The Strachan family have been on a trip out with a difference today.

Ordinarily, St James’ Hospital oncology unit wouldn’t be my first choice of a location for a family outing, but years ago I was taught on team building course that bonding can occur in the most unexpected of environments…….. That being said, I don’t expect the trip to be included in the Shearings Travel brochure anytime soon!

I have nothing but admiration for the staff who have supported my wife so admirably over the last six years. They are without doubt every bit as amenable as Frank and Mable in the Ainsley Scragg cafe in the Yorkshire Dales. However, it’ll never be destination of choice for even the most discerning adventure.

The reason behind our unorthodox clan outing was my wife’s appointment for monthly treatment, in conjunction with a scheduled consultation for another family member at the same location.

Although treating this as an family trip out, there was no sitting on picnic rugs eating Marks & Spencer’s sausage rolls, scotch eggs and tuna mayo butties…… I’ve forgotten the rug, but all is not lost as we’ve managed to get seats, where we feasted on the food we ordinarily trough alfresco.

You may argue a picnic in a hospital waiting room is crass, insensitive and not a suitable location for making shed loads of savoury snack crumbs. Well, I couldn’t really argue with your sentiments, but I’ll get back to you on that when I’ve finished feeding the ducks.

Of course, we haven’t brought a picnic or ducks to this location, I’m using artistic licence to pad out an otherwise eventless couple of hours. Linger time spent awaiting completion of both Strachan patients treatment. 

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With both patients treatment areas being separated by five floors, the lift between levels 3 and -2  became a regular companion over the duration of our time there.

I alighted and exited this lift with the regularity of a bloke who goes in and out of lifts a lot. I know that was a rubbish metaphor, but with dizziness induced by constantly changing altitude, I can’t be bothered to think of a decent one.

If the lift could have talked, apart from informing you of the level it stops at, it would have probably told me “For flips sake, make up your mind Strachan!” during my later trips on the stair avoidance device.

Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s not the worst of atmospheres to spend your time. My in-laws house for example. Seriously, though, bearing in mind the nature of its patients the oncology institute can be place of calm, reflection and joyful lift rides.

Today, as we waited, familiar melodic sounds of a grand piano tootled soothing sounds, which emanated from the reception area. Although the instrument was easy to make out, the tune was not one I recognised. An upbeat rhythm, its pace had its roots in Vivaldi Four Seasons concerti, but an old woman close by had words accompanying it, which would rule out that piece.

I could only make out occasional words the elderly lady sang, which were delivered with proficiency, skill and melody. However, they didn’t give any clues to the songs identity. I have to admit mind you, I’ve never heard of a song with lyrics including the words badger, creosote and lemon juice randomly interjected.

However, it is very stirring tune that wouldn’t be out of place as a National Anthem….. That’s if you can find a country which desires an anthem with reference to badgers, creosote and lemon juice!

After a few hours both patients treatment concluded and we headed out of the oncology institute via the lift to the car park. The two patients looked tired after their wait and medication, but not as shattered as the elevator who, following its hectic day, was too breathless to give the floor number on reaching our exit level.

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