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Between the Bedpans and the Heavy Lifting

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Mr Irwin...? Sir...? Mr Irwin...?  

Hmmm?  

Mr Irwin?  

Yeah? Yes? I’m awake.   

You’re really not, you know. It’s time for your medication.   

Uhhhhh.  

Sir? You need to wake up.  

I am. Sorry. Yes, I’m awake.  

Pain killers, Mr Irwin. Seems daft to wake you up to make you take painkillers, but that’s matron for you. Here, have some water.   

Yeah. Thanks.  

How you feeling?  

Rough.  

That’s to be expected. Merry Christmas, by the way.  

Christmas?  

It’s Christmas day.  

Is it?  

It is, I’m afraid. Can’t you tell by this bit of festive tinsel I’ve wrapped round my head?  

Now you mention it. Positively angelic.  

Thank you kindly. Yep. You and me stuck here on Christmas day.  

I’m sorry.  

Not your fault. Besides, it’s cheerier here than at home—the company’s better.   

That’s a low bar. I’m sorry.  

Don’t be. I'd only have to put up with my dad's so-called jokes about his son, the nurse. Women’s work, apparently. Though I’ve never worked out what’s feminine about bedpans and heavy lifting. To be fair, I don’t think it’s dealing with other people’s shit that bothers him, it’s the being paid to give a shit about other people that he finds effeminate. And there’s nothing worse than that is there? What do you do?  

I teach. 

You teach? You mean you're a teacher? 

I suppose so. I suppose I am, for now. 

You wouldn’t get far with him either then. Nancys, the lot of ’em! That’s him, not me, obviously.  

Obviously.  

But you shouldn’t be stuck here on your own on Christmas day. You had a visitor yesterday, mind.  

Did I?  

Yeah. You were just out of surgery. He left you something.   

He?   

Young man, my age—maybe a bit younger, dark hair… nice-looking… you okay?   

Um… yeah… no… not really.  

Mr Irwin?   

Tom. It’s Tom.  

Tom. Okay. What’s the matter? Can I get you anything?  

No, no... thanks... What did he leave?   

Erm… it’s… I put it in your locker. Hold on… here…feels like a book. Tom, I’m… sorry, I can see you’re upset. What is it?  

I’m okay. It’s… he… oh shit.  

Hey... hey... it’s okay. You’re tired and surgery takes it out of you. Those painkillers will kick in soon. Here, have a tissue... don’t worry, I’ve seen grown men cry before—I worry when they don’t cry. He seemed nice—he was worried.   

Was he here? Did he see me?   

Yeah, you were sleeping like a baby… he stayed a few minutes, but you were out of it.   

Fuck. 

He seemed…   

What?   

Honestly? He seemed overwhelmed. I think he planned to stay, but he sort of ran. He gave me the present. He said…   

What?   

He said, tell him I’m sorry. Tell him I’m sorry I took the piss. I was taking the piss at the beginning but not in the end. Does that mean anything to you?   

Jesus. It does, yeah.  

He was insistent about it—made me repeat it. Particularly the bit about not taking the piss in the end. Is that a good thing?   

God, I wish I knew. I’m not sure where it leaves me. Maybe it would be better if he had been taking the piss. He…   

… it’s alright, you don’t have to tell me. But he’s important to you, isn’t he?   

Yes, unfortunately. I wish he weren’t.   

Don’t.  

What?  

Wish it away.  

What?  

People who are important to you... for whatever reason. It doesn’t come around that often.   

So wise for one so young.  

Yeah, well—been there, done that. Anyway, I’m twenty-three, and you’re going on twenty-five, I’ve seen your chart. So, don’t one-so-young me, Mr World-Weary. 

I feel a hundred and going on twenty-five. 

I don’t doubt it... Do you want to open your present?   

Yeah, may as well. 

I’ll go. Give you some privacy.   

No. Stay, please. Sorry, I don’t know your name.   

Simon.  

Would you stay please, Simon? If you’ve time.  

I’m not exactly rushed off my feet. There you go… nice paper—glittery.   

Thanks. There’ll be glitter everywhere…   

What’s Christmas without a bit of glitter...? Tom...? Tom...?   

Auden. Oh, Dakin... Auden? Such a fucking romantic. Honestly.   

Everyone likes a little romance. Can I see it? Do you mind?  

No. Be my guest. 

There’s a bookmark in it.  

Yes. The one I’m meant to read, I suppose.   

Why that one?   

Because he took the piss out of it. Took the piss out of me. Because…   

…Lullaby. Oh... Can I read it?  

If you want...  

******  

...Watched by every human love...Oh, that’s lovely. I... erm...  

You alright?  

No... not really... hit a nerve…. I don’t understand it, not completely, but you know... What's funny?

I know someone...knew someone... who'd like that, that you don't fully understand it, but it moves you anyway.

Yeah. Christ, what a pair, eh? Pass those tissues.  

Sorry.  

For God's sake stop apologising. Fucking Christmas—makes me sentimental.  

Is that why you work this shift? 

Why? 

No room for sentiment between the bedpans and the heavy lifting? 

Maybe. 

I should think he is a bit proud of you, your dad. 

Yeah? He keeps it well hidden then. 

Men do, don’t they, keep things well hidden? 

I suppose... Dakin? Is that his name?  

Stuart. Stuart Dakin.  

Well, Stuart Dakin needs a word with himself, frankly. He should have stayed and given you this himself.  

Yes, I think maybe he should.  

******

Simon? What are you rummaging around under there for? Aren’t you meant to be off shift by now?  

Merry Christmas to you too. I’m looking for the phone book. I’m sure we had one.  

Look past the end of your nose then. It’s there.  

Oh. Yeah. Thanks.  

You look a twat with that tinsel round your head. What’s it meant to be, a halo?  

You know me, Mandy. Nothing a bit of glitter won’t fix.  

Oh, to live in your uncomplicated little head. How’s Mr Irwin?  

Tom. His name’s Tom. He’s in all kinds of pain. His chart’s there, but he’s asleep now.  

Okay, I’ll leave him be, unless Matron wants me to poke him with a stick...someone died, you know, in the crash he was in.

Really? Poor sod.

Not his fault, I don't think, but still.

He didn't mention it.

He wouldn't, would he? He's not the type.

What type?

To tell things, without being asked. Anyway, what’s so important that you’re still here?  

Need a number. Need to put something right... What’s wrong with people, Mandy? Why can’t people just say what they mean and mean what they say? I mean, poetry’s all very well. Poetry’s lovely. But sometimes, you know, just say what you fucking mean.  

It would certainly make life easier. Mind you, I wouldn’t say no to a bit of poetry now and then.  

I’ll read you some poetry, Mand, when I’ve done this.  

Ta very much. 

D... Da... Dak… Dakin. Shit, there are five. Oh well, start at the beginning—shouldn’t take too long. And it’s not like I’ve got anything to rush home for.  

Yeah, stay and keep me company with your poetry and your glitter. What are you...?  

… Shush, it’s ringing... Hello. Yes...erm...sorry. Merry Christmas. Is Stuart there, please?