I’d give Nurse Ratched a run for her money as ward tyrant – Susan Morrison

Tempers flare as a hungry Yorkshireman awaiting an NHS inspection and Susan Morrison get into a detailed discussion of biscuits.

Friday, 2nd August 2019, 6:00 am
Louise Fletcher in her Oscar-winning role as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you don’t feed Yorkshiremen on a very regular basis, they reach levels of grumpiness previously unseen by scientists. The same goes for Scotsmen, too, of course, but it just ­happens that the Northern England specimen is the one I am most familiar with.

To be blunt, things have not been working at optimum level for my particular Yorkshire bloke’s waste disposal, and he is a man who likes his curry.

Once again, the might of the NHS stepped in and the GP referred him to have his innards photographed, just as I did earlier in the year.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. Good grief, woman, most couples your age just opt for matching anoraks. Twinning your medical ­procedures is a bit on the twee side.

Part of the preparation for this fun event involves forswearing food for 24 hours. Things got tense.

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Matters didn’t help that I had decided to stay in all day just to look after him. This in the face of all the evidence that a contest between me and Nurse Ratched would easily lead to her picking up the Golden Bedpan. I’m just not good with sick people. Even when it’s me that’s the patient.

By early afternoon, our marriage had started to resemble one of those Pinter plays. Two people, stuck together, broken dialogue, bitter silences. We could have picked up awards for that. Should have got it in the Fringe programme.

Matters don’t help that madam here insisted on telling him in graphic detail what would be likely to happen. Forewarned is forearmed is always my motto, and the grimmer you can get the better, although admittedly giggling as you tell him is probably counterproductive.

About three there was a sudden flashpoint, like a patrol coming under fire in Vietnam. Things kicked off, man. I think it was to do with ­digestive biscuits. I may have eaten one in front of him and passed the entirely reasonable opinion that digestives are a good solid working-class biscuit. Keir Hardie would have eaten digestives. The custard cream, on the other hand, is nowt but a jumped-up aspiring wannabe middle-class arriviste.

Turns out, he’s got opinions on biscuits too, but he expressed them somewhat more forcibly. It all got a bit Radio 4 drama before it calmed down. I mean, we survived. It never veered into divorce country, but there were moments when murder was definitely on the cards.

The morning dawned and we got in the car. On at least two occasions, I noted that he was trying to come up with reasons why I should not drive him home and I slowly realised he was more worried about sitting in the passenger seat with me as a driver than the procedure. He’s always had this notion in his head that I turn into Smokey and the Bandit the minute I get behind the wheel. This is just nonsense. Mostly.

Anyway, we have to drive along Ferry Road, which, as we all know, is the place where utilities like to dig holes so that the tour buses can sit in endless traffic jams with a great view of the castle. What did he think I was going to do on the Go-Slow Highway to the Western? Hit 90 then hand-brake turn into the Stewarts Melville ground for a spot of grass churning in a Ford Ka?

As ever, the great people at the NHS looked after him, rootled about, took pictures, and, of course, gave him tea. He also got biscuits. Digestives, as it happened. They came and told him he has diverticulitis, and how to handle it through diet.

One nurse told me that he shouldn’t eat those fancy crispbreads that have seeds and nuts on them.

He is from Yorkshire. They do not recognise the crispbread as food. I put it down to them coming from Sweden. Even folk from Sheffield still hold a grudge over the ­burning of York by Ivar the Boneless in 866AD.

He looks at the ones I like in the cupboard with the sort of expression you expect Nicola Sturgeon gave Boris Johnson. Baffled, faintly repelled and a bit uncertain as to what it actually is and how it actually got there.

They’re here! Fringe kids are on the case

Aha. The rumble of cases is abroad. The Fringe has landed. Fresh-faced little hopefuls from around the world have arrived to give it their best shot with Romeo and Juliet – The Slapstick Years. It’s in mime, of course, with a unicycling donkey making a brief and surprising appearance as the nurse.

I know it’s a pain for us but let’s grit our teeth and get through it. It’s like being trapped with a starving Yorkshireman waiting for a colonoscopy, only with fewer digestive biscuits and more self-important bahookies about just waiting to be photographed.