The only fun here is abusing a priest.
Over the years, in the longueurs of the night, I’ve often wondered if life would be better if it was much, much shorter. But in hospital this feeling is intensified to the point when you’re actually cheering for the cancer.
Fuck all happens. And then it happens again. Occasionally, just to shake things up a bit, all of a sudden fuck all will stop happening, and sod all will happen instead. But then it’s back to fuck all for the rest of the week.
The day has several highlights, which is a bit like saying East Anglia has several Alps.
- 6am wake-up. Thanks nurse, you absolute bastard. And for absolutely no reason at all, even though some buffoon a couple of beds away was talking to Napoleon Bonaparte until 4am.
- A pill, which no nurse can explain to me, and no doctor has the time to answer questions about. I just swallow it. It might be cyanide, but by 3 in the afternoon I’m too bored to care.
- People taking blood samples. I’m unconvinced that my blood changes dramatically from day-to-day, but it breaks the morning up if I let somebody stab me in the arm.
- Something dubious and grey on a small saucer being pushed in front of me by a con-artist in a tabard, who is convinced I’ll believe it’s actually a salmon en croute if he repeats this slanderous claim often enough.
- Tea. I used to drink coffee, and I’m no snob about it. Powdered Maxwell House is fine by me if that’s all you can be arsed making. But the stuff they serve here is water from a puddle outside, which has been heated by being hurred on a few times to take the chill off it. That’s the only rational explanation for how bad the coffee is. So I’m drinking tea instead, which somehow they get right.
But the undisputed highlight, the thing I look forward to more than anything, is the weekly visit from the hospital chaplain. The first time he arrived I was reading Catch-22, which (in case you haven’t read it, in which case your life is an empty sham) starts with these words:
It was love at first sight.
The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.
So there, right in front of me, was a chaplain. Standing upright, proudly humble, as though he actually belonged there. This flatulent, fatuous, fraudulent… I was not in love with the chaplain.
Scene: Hospital ward, interior, day. A hospital chaplain is doing his rounds and alights at Mole Rat’s bed.
Mole Rat: You’ll be sorry.
Mole Rat: I said you’ll be sorry. I’m just giving you fair warning that if you try to peddle “crazy” around here you’ll be sorry. I don’t think religion demands automatic respect, so if you want to be loudly disrespected try talking to me about your invisible friend.
Chaplain: I’m here to bring comfort to people.
Mole Rat: You lie to them.
Chaplain: No I don’t.
Mole Rat: Prove it.
Chaplain: Prove what?
Mole Rat: Prove anything! Absolutely every claim you make for the presence of God is based on the superstitious rantings of a few fishermen 2000 years ago, who didn’t even know where the sun went to at night or understand the mechanics of rainfall. Do you REALLY think those people accurately guessed the cause of creation for the entire universe, what it’s for, and what happens after death? Of course they didn’t; it’s a myth. It’s one of millions of myths, it just happens to be one that’s popular right now. It could just as easily be Zeus or the mighty Im Ho Tep. And you’re selling this bullshit to people who are sick and desperate. You should be ashamed of yourself. If I was you, I couldn’t live with myself. It’s disgusting.
Chaplain: I do a good job. I make a lot of people feel better.
Mole Rat: So it’s all about you, is it?
Chaplain: No, it’s about the patients.
Mole Rat: Surely religious patients already know about God?
Mole Rat: And you believe God listens to them?
Mole Rat: So what do they need you for? You serve no purpose. Go away, you fraud.
Chaplain: I’m not a fraud.
Mole Rat: Look around you. You’re here in a temple of science, where every single aspect of the care and treatment is built on trial, and evidence and the scientific method. And you have the unmitigated nerve to float from bed to bed, mopping up excess gratitude and claiming your magic friend in the sky is helping to cure people. Well He isn’t. You can pray until you’re blue in the face, and it’s not going to stitch a single wound or cure a single cancer. Did 2000 years of prayer cure Smallpox? No, 25 years of science did. God is a childish myth, and you’re a gullible fool. In fact you’re worse than a gullible fool, because as a professional theologian you’ve undoubtedly thought about this a lot; and unless you’re a total moron, you’ve probably considered the fact that there isn’t much to back up this “God” malarkey. So you’ve either decided to con yourself, or you’ve decided to con your flock. Either way, it’s a pretty miserable way to spend your life. If you really wanted to help people around here you’d take a medical degree.
Chaplain: I don’t think I can help you.
Mole Rat: I don’t think you can help anybody. Bugger off.
End of scene.
I enjoyed that. So did the patients all around me. I got a little ripple of applause. I’m no hypocrite; I don’t even claim it’s about God or the patients. It’s all about me, me, me. I live for the adulation of my captive audience. Ha ha, don’t you know greatness when you see it, puny humans!
I’ve spent too long alone in here.