A few weeks ago I found myself lying on my back on a stretcher, being wheeled into an operating theatre for the first time in life. An annoying and rather clingy sty had fixed its abode on my lower eyelid in July last year and despite trying to massage it off by pressing a warm flannel against it, the abscess proved quite stubborn to get rid of. I know that the housing situation in the UK is not in the best of shape at the moment, but surely this was not the kind of tenant I needed even if there'd been space for building a house on my lower lid.
It was a rather grey day with the first heavy snowfall of the season forecast for later on. I arrived at the hospital by bus and planned to return home using the same method of transport. At no point did I fret over the operation. In fact, I still recalled my GP's words when she first saw me last summer and the phrase "laser the sty off" kept coming back. So, I carried on thinking that the procedure would be quick and painless. A radio with the station Magic FM was on with Queen's We are the champions playing to the whole ward. The signs couldn't have been more encouraging.
And yet, life always has a card up its sleeve.
If you're squeamish about operations, please, look away now and come back in the paragraph after next one.
But of whom I thought the most that day as the afternoon put on its grey cape earlier than usual, was the personnel tasked with my well-being and us, the beneficiaries. From the - mainly - Filipino nurses who fussed over me as if I was a six year-old child to the doctor who talked me away from my trauma by discussing fishing in Cuba (including the ubiquitous legacy of Hemingway and his The Old Mand and the Sea) the staff were magnificent, caring in their approach and professional in their delivery. And we, the patients in that ward, reciprocated in equal measure. It made me think of the future of the NHS in this country and the current threat that the coalition government poses to it.