A Gentleman - Upon addmission to hospital

                      AS AN IN-PATIENT IN HOSPITAL

 From time to time it will be a kindly thing if a gentleman will take
himself off to hospital for a week or two, the better to rest his wife
and domestic staff whilst at the same time enjoying unprecedented
attention to his personal comfort by the caring agency.

 Suitable establishments have been provided throughout the country by
the gentlemen of the House, largely at the expense of the common man and
his tax levy. It is thus unavoidable that a gentleman must endure the
company of the common man at close quarters, even to the extent of
suffering him to sleep alongside. Much of his discomfiture at this will
be relieved, however, if a gentleman will bear in mind the experience of
those who have gone before.

 It will seldom be desirable to exercise his right to a single room
since the solitude thus won will generally permit an idle staff to
overlook his personal needs. The requirement to constantly summon
attention, and the raucous sound of the buzzer by which means he will do
so, will surely become an unbearable irritation before his first day is
done. It will, furthermore, be difficult to enjoy a well-earned Corona
if there is to be none other than he in the room when investigations
commence into the origin of its fragrant aroma.

 Since the various wards in such establishments have each their own
advantages and disadvantages, a gentleman will do well to consider
before committing himself the merits of those which may be available to

 Heart and Chest wards, for example, are wont most commonly to be
cluttered with innumerable mechanical devices, the electrical
extravagances of which will most assuredly interfere with his own radio
receiving apparatus. Furthermore, the attitude of the staff therein is
all too often such that the slightest whiff of a gentleman's Havana will
send them at once into despotic rages, the tolerance of which is not
lightly achieved. It may be worth considering, however, that on such a
ward he may most readily and often proclaim himself too tired or too
weak to carry-out the simplest of tasks and may reasonably expect to be
waited upon to a fairly high standard.

 Orthopaedic and Stroke wards will, in the main, be so cluttered by
those confined to their beds that a gentleman will find quite taxing the
effort of procuring for himself a level of attention commensurate with
his caste. Such addresses have little to commend them save for the
convenience of having close at hand a captive audience which will be
unable to excuse itself of his scintillating conversation and lightning

 Wards for the mentally unstable should be avoided in every case, for
though he may find any amount of unseemly behaviour on his own part is
excused by a quaintly tolerant staff, a gentleman will find the
creatures about him less than respectful of his position. Whilst it
beggars belief in decent society, their refusal to accord him the
deference due his better breeding will invariably go unpunished, the
ignorant malingerers hiding as they will behind a facade of feigned

 The variety and unpredictability of maladies sported by the recumbent
lower orders in Medical wards tenders an interesting element of chance
for the seasoned gentleman in search of a little extra "je ne sais
quoi", but less experienced fellows are recommended to avoid them since
there is within a very real possibility that they may themselves
contract a hitherto unplanned illness.

 Surgical and Uro-Genital wards may ordinarily be regarded as safe
harbours for a gentleman at rest, the latter yielding a fascinatingly
high staff interest in the performance of his most noble organs. In such
places, however, he must be prepared to find that his gazunda is no
better than that provided for the common man. Should he avail himself of
it, he must essay to be rid of it promptly lest he find that, being
composed of little more than re-constituted egg-boxes, it slowly returns
to him that of which he had thought himself well divorced.

 It will usually be possible, by prior arrangement with his personal
physician, for the terms of his stay to be such that a gentleman will
not be expected even to walk from the front door to his bed. Portering
staff are to be found on hand - and are paid handsomely to be so - for
the purpose of taking him about whilst he sits comfortably in a wheeled-
chair. Should one such be less than attentive to his presence, he should
be aware that they are an idle breed, more given to playing games of
chance amid clouds of reefer-smoke than to serving their betters, and
insist that they be upstood at once. He may then select one to transport
him to his chosen ward. Once there he may, if his ride has been not too
disquieting, dismiss the porter and, exceptionally, proffer a few
coppers by way of a tip. The lower orders respond well to such gracious
acts and the coppers - though they be lost moments later against a
poorly played hand - will ensure the creature's best attention should
his further services be later required.

 Once in place on his ward, a gentleman may wish to consider the several
artifices by which he may secure every possible personal advantage.

 The lower orders derive much pleasure from being of service to their
betters and it will be a kindly gesture if a gentleman, remembering
this, will afford them every opportunity to assist him. Should his daily
journal slip from his grasp, for example, while he is perusing it, it
will be good form for him to signal one of those abed beside him and
apprise him of his plight. Comments such as "I say .... would you mind
.... ?" will generally curry immediate assistance and a subsequent
"Damned kind .... most obliged .... " will be most warmly received.

 Similar opportunities may be presented if, finding his tea-cup empty
for example, the gentleman will effect dismay at his drought and ask of
any whose eye he may catch "I say my good fellow, have you taken the
leaf today ?" Upon being answered, he should continue to display his cup
whilst holding the creature's gaze and glancing occasionally toward the
tea- making machine.

 Care should be taken to ensure that no one person enjoys over much of a
gentleman's patronage at the expense of another and it will be most
comely if he will share his favours liberally and fairly amongst those
into whose company he is thrust.

 The Nurse Call apparatus should be used primarily for summoning
attention to those bodily functions with which the female gender is
better suited to assist, procuring comforts not then enjoyed by the
common man and, where necessary, reporting incidences of shoddy
attention by any who have stepped beyond their place.

 It must be remembered that the nursing staff, being not well versed in
the social graces, will generally be seized of a sense of fair play
which is seldom of benefit to a gentleman of breeding. It may therefore
be necessary from time to time for him to effect an apparent air of
helpfulness and self- endeavour whilst actually pressing home the need
for more urgent attention.

 Unless he would appear boorish and self-centred, a gentleman may hardly
sustain his complaint of slow response to the Nurse Call when the
domestic finally attends and reports that she was unable to answer more
quickly, having been attending another in more urgent need. Such
misplaced priorities, however, cannot be tolerated and he may find a
number of subtle devices most efficacious in effecting a marked

 Let us suppose, for example, that a gentleman has activated his Nurse
Call apparatus, for whatever reason, and is left waiting for a response.
He should at once rise awkwardly from his bed and make his way
unsteadily toward the small room. At a point midway betwixt his bed and
that room he should falter in mid-stride and then, without re-arranging
his habiliment, relieve himself without restraint. Those around him will
not be oblivious to his predicament and further Nurse Calls on his
behalf will summon rapid assistance. Once waited upon, he may profess
his utter dismay that such a terrible thing should have occurred, remind
the idle creature in gentle terms that he did ring but that, being
possessed of an autocratic bowel not given to tendering much warning of
its intent, he was caught embarrassingly short and had tried, at least,
to gain the toilet. It will seldom be necessary to repeat this artifice
more than one or twice to secure a most immediate response to his Nurse
Call apparatus.

 Should any within the room find amusement at his predicament while he
stands amid the spoil waiting for assistance, a gentleman may feel free
to add a spoonful of powdered Cascara to the creature's water-jug during
the night. The speed with which he will thereafter be moved to empathise
will be most gratifying.

 Notwithstanding the care with which he chooses his ward, it is to be
expected that a gentleman will find within at least one individual whose
curmudgeonly presentment is beyond the pale. It will be entirely proper
if he will contrive for the good of himself and others present to have
such a lout removed forthwith, provided only that his efforts in that
direction are not perceived as such by any person of consequence. This
one inhibition must inevitably cause some delay, however, which a
gentleman will bear with fortitude whilst mounting the while a carefully
structured campaign.

 He may enlist the support of his fellow-sufferers if he will, during
the night, covertly gather together such miscellaneous articles of
fruit, soft-drinks and confections as may be found atop the bedside
lockers of those about him and quietly arrange the same within and atop
the locker of the bellicose lout whose removal he would engineer. His
arousal the following morning will almost certainly be heralded by
remonstrations from his fellows, the like of which will not long be
tolerated by the caring agency. Whilst he must, of course, report the
loss of his gold cuff-links a gentleman will not precipitate their
discovery in the lout's wash-bag but will instead await their exposition
quietly and with good grace.

 Having thus disenfranchised the creature, a gentleman may profitably
turn his attention to the means by which he may expedite matters. If the
lout is catheterised, for example, the discreet addition of a
teaspoonful of Ribena to his drainage bag will ordinarily bring about
his urgent removal to a uro-genital ward. Should he be labelled at his
head "Nil by mouth", the judicious sprinkling of a measure of Gilbey's
about his pyjama front and sheets in the night will provoke a most
satisfying response from the nursing staff at change of shift. The oaf
will almost certainly be removed to a place from whence he may more
easily be observed and his proclivity for the juniper berry firmly
discouraged ! Against the risk that he be returned prematurely to the
ward, there remains the possibility that while he bides his delayed
operation he may reflect upon his boorishness and attempt to improve his

 In order to preclude the bootless and unhorsed fighting amongst
themselves, at establishments wherein television sets are provided it is
customary for the first before the screen to determine which of the
available channels will be watched by all present and for the nursing
staff, when called upon to arbitrate, to support his choice. Given the
limited intelligence of his caste, it is unlikely that the common man
will elect to watch programmes offering any mental stimulation and if he
is not to be sorely disadvantaged, therefore, a gentleman must essay to
be the first in the television room after his evening meal. Should he be
pre-empted by one more determined, or looser of limb, he will wish to
redress the situation before any others arrive to outnumber him.

 Speed being of the essence, it will often serve if he will at once
repair to the public telephone and there invest a few coppers in a call
to the ward. If he will purport to be a neighbour of he who would usurp
him and require, before leaving the receiver off the hook, to speak to
him, he will cause the usurper to be called forthwith to the telephone
at the nurses' station and away from the television. He need then only
switch channels on the set and settle himself comfortably before the
screen in order to assert his rightful supremacy.

 Though he be not overly fond of washing when at home, the common man in
hospital displays an irritating tendency to occupy the showers
immediately before his betters. Since he can have no way of knowing what
manner of bacteria may assail him, a gentleman must do all within his
power to ensure that he showers before the bootless around him. Rather
than countenance an incommodious haste, he will find it helpful if he
will visit the shower earlier in the day and, unnoticed, remove the
shower-head. If he will then insert a penny-piece into the faucet before
replacing the head he will render the shower apparently out of order and
thus ensure that none before him can make use of it. This must not be
effected, however, until after six in the afternoon so that the
maintenance staff will not be summoned and thwart him.

 It is when a gentleman retires for the night that he must face his
biggest hurdle for the lower orders are wont to snore incessantly and
suffer no shame at broadcasting spurious emissions of a particularly
opprobious, stereophonic quality. If he is to derive any benefit from
his sojourn, he must gird his loins and effect a rapid solution.

 The provision of oxygen over long periods is thought to encourage
snoring and, in the elderly, anal disharmony. It follows that a fellow
may obtain some advantage if he will covertly reduce the amount of that
gas being administered, by the simple expedient of closing the valve on
the wall. This will be a gallant act, relieving not only himself but
others similarly discomposed. Against the possiblity that the diminution
of horse-like emanations may signal the ebbing of life itself, however,
such remedies must ever be effected with the utmost stealth. In the
event that the creature should be so thoughtless as to expire it will be
essential that his oxygen supply is restored with no less stealth before
his cadaver is discovered at first light

 Those hapless enough to have undergone surgery may be found still
connected to mechanical pumps which administer continuously metered
doses of potent anaesthetic. Should one such be the source of overmuch
annoyance, a discreet adjustment to his pump will ordinarily effect a
similar panacea. It should be borne in mind, however, that the common
man connected to such apparatus is apt to be under close, perhaps
hourly, supervision against the possibility that he will for profit
share part of his medication with others around him. It will be
necessary, therefore, to ensure that visits to his bedside do not
coincide with those of the caring agency. Should the ruffian take leave
of his coil with the gentleman's kind assistance, it is likely that a
post mortem will reveal the presence of overmuch anaesthetic. In these
cases, therefore, a gentleman should not restore the pump to its
previous setting but rather so arrange the cadavaer as to suggest that
the creature was wilfully and without assistance "chasing the dragon"
when it turned and caught him.

 Dependant upon the personal mobility of the malingerers about him, a
gentleman may find himself unable to obtain first choice at the
meal-trolley, privacy in which to enjoy a post- prandial cigar, or
freedom to rifle pockets in the staff cloakroom without being followed.
For these and a myriad of other reasons he may need to take for himself
the advantage of speed. It will be more dignified if he will obtain the
edge by reducing the mobility of the unhorsed about him, rather than
engage himself in discomfiting haste. Since the hospital authorities
take an unreasonable exception to inordinate numbers of their guests
tumbling wallet-over-watch, such exchanges of supremacy must be
engineered without ado.

 Those possessed of zimmer frames and the common aluminium, adjustable
walking stick, for example, may be persuaded to engage in a most
energetic series of forward rolls - and thus expend their energies - if
the bolts on either side of their support are removed during the night.
To better ensure that its unreliability is not prematurely discovered, a
gentleman should move the frame slightly beyond the reach of the
unhorsed in charge of it. He will thus gain it at full stretch and
benefit greatly from an additional surge of forward momentum just as he
commences his rolls.

 More ambulant specimens, relying upon neither frame nor stick, may be
slowed if one or two drawing pins are removed from the notice-board and
firmly inserted through the sole of one bedroom slipper. Note that the
pin should be sited beneath the heel of the foot, and not the toes, for
optimum effect. As an alternative if no drawing-pins are to be found, a
discarded hypodermic-needle may be rescued from the sharps-box and
pressed into service, in which case it should be casually inserted at an
angle through the outer side-wall of the slipper from which position it
can better puncture the vena cava where it passes beneath the ankle

 In either event and upon observing the terrible accident which follows,
a gentleman will at once activate his Nurse Call and summon assistance
to the unfortunate creature so sadly disposed. He must then make great
show of checking his own footwear most carefully and spend a moment or
two entreating all about him to do likewise, thus removing any vestige
of suspicion that he may have in any way contributed to the unfortunate

 His concern for his fellow man thus demonstrated will quite properly
earn him the respect of those around and about, they having been moved
as one by his gentlemanly compassion and being grateful for the
leadership of his helpful response.

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