The route from my home to Kings Lynn takes one hour and thirty minutes if the A47 is not suffering from an accident, flood or tanker fire. The people of Norfolk are generally stoical. Afterall – surely they fare better than those people-to-be-pitied who daily travel along the M25?
It then takes at least another 30 minutes of driving around the hospital car park to find a parking space, followed by a sprint to find a pay machine that works. By which time everyone is late for whatever appointment they might have once had.
The parking situation puts me in mind of a person who has eaten far too much. The cars keep going in, and the belt keeps expanding into whatever pot holed or grassed area is available, until one day it will probably burst and the whole lot will explode into the The Wash. (No, I do not mean the Zanussi or the Hotpoint, but that piece of water between Norfolk and Lincolnshire where King John is supposed to have dropped his treasure).
Finally I made it into Orthopaedics (late) to find the receptionist being monopolised by a woman in a geometric patterned top who was explaining at great length what her requirements were for booking the next appointment. She was sent to X-ray. I got to the receptionist and then I was sent to X-ray too.
The receptionist in X-ray was less serene. The place was bursting. Mostly senior people sitting quietly on chairs rubbing their painful knees, but also a number of children who had obviously met with misfortunes. Not to mention the builders who were to-ing and fro-ing with parts of the ceiling in their arms.
Now, anyone from Norfolk knows that Liz Truss and other MPs have been trying to get a new hospital at Kings Lynn for years. As one might expect, this is not going well. The roof is held up with more than four thousand props, and these are inspected daily in order to ensure the safety of the staff and patients. Inpatients sleep between these props on the wards.
I found a seat where I could stare at the noticeboard, which was adorned with a sign that thanked everyone for their patience and predicted how long the wait would be. Except no one had filled in the blank section that informed us how long the wait would be.
Under the noticeboard sat the lady in the geometric patterned top. She occupied one chair, while her voluminous handbag (or was it an overnight bag?) occupied another, spilling books, combs and bottles of water. She probably had a marmalade sandwich in there somewhere. Spread out on her lap was a woolly jumper, and she was busy combing it. The pool of purple woolly bobbles spread out from her feet like a puddle. Those of us sitting around her began to catch each other’s eyes with increasing agitation. Finally one brave man could keep silent no longer.
“I hoop yew are goin’ to clar that up!” (My attempt at a Norfolk accent).
This was followed by various humorous comments about wishing someone had brought a vacuum cleaner, and long explanations by Woman in Geometric Top about why she was combing the jumper and how she would never leave a mess because she goes litter picking all the time. She then treated us all to a bottoms-up view while she attempted to pick it all off the floor. We were eventually rescued by a bemused radiologist who offered her a dustpan and brush.
An hour and a half later and I had exited X-ray and was sitting in a smaller queue beside the consultant’s door wondering if I was going to get a parking fine. Luckily he spoke very fast and I escaped just in time.
Er…what did he say?
The NHS is never dull.
UPDATE: the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, is now officially on the “new hospital” waiting list!
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