I had occasion yesterday to visit a friend of mine in hospital, he was in the Intensive Care Ward, or something of similar name, which sounds worse than it was but still not a happy place to be.
There seems to be a certain etiquette which is observed in hospitals when visiting, one pays due deference to all the staff, the nurses and doctors etc, who are working themselves into an early grave for nowhere near enough money.
Having checked in at the nurses station, myself and the friend who came with me eventually found the whereabouts of the friend we had come to see who was in a bed with tubes coming from all sorts of places and a machine next to the bed which seemed to be taking care of all his bodily functions, short of farting for him.
Initially, quite a shock, for although our friend is getting on a bit, to see him in such condition is not what one would prefer, I rather like the Carry On image of hospital treatment, chaps smoking in bed while nurses in skimpy outfits flit about the ward attending to the patients every need.
After the initial hello's, starting with the most stupid question that everyone asks, "and how are you." "How do you think I am, I'm stuck in this bed, tubes coming from every orifice of my body, I'm in Intensive Care and you ask, how am I?"
Things generally go downhill from here with a full explanation of your friends illness including the gory details of bed pans, enemas and a full explanation of the function of each and every pipe and tube emanating from his body.
Then to top it all, the nurses arrive to encourage the patient to sit up and if possible to sit in the chair, however all this movement triggers a different type of movement which necessitates the drawing of the curtains and the arrival of the commode.
Some time later having stood about rather awkwardly listening to the bodily functions of our friend the inevitable waft of warm excreta fills the small side ward leaving said friend somewhat embarrassed upon being revealed after his exertions.
Another ten minutes or so of awkward conversation and finally one feels it is safe to depart without looking as if one is shirking one's responsibilities.
How very peculiar hospital visits are, for under normal circumstances when meeting this fellow we would be able to converse all evening on any number of subjects, without feeling in the slightest bit awkward, so effected by our experience, my friend and I had to seek solace in a real ale bar near his home where I was encouraged to try a pint of Squeaky Cats Bottom and all was right with the world.