River Wissey Lovell Fuller

What Does the Doctor thing this month?

October 2012

September 2012

THE CRUISE LINE: Deannie now has another title to add to “Management” and “Head Office” and I shall tell you more later. We were due to board the ship at Rosyth, on the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, on a Saturday in July. We set off on the Thursday to take a couple of days over the trip, perhaps stopping in the Lake District on the way. All the way, the weather was appalling. I used to say that the rain was pi**ing down (clue: think urinary outflow) but Management always objected to the phrase and I am most grateful to my good friend of 35 years, Ken Griffen, for supplying an acceptable alternative. He is inherently more polite than I am and talks of the rain “persisting” down, a phrase acceptable to both our managements. This is how the English language evolves, folks. To continue, we set off north, discovered from a roadside tea vendor  that the A17 has been de-trunked (ie. is not a trunk road anymore so they can dig it up during the day time and cause vast queues) and eventually hit the A1 and arrived at Scotch Corner. The rain was persisting down with great enthusiasm and we began to find roads blocked by flooding, with dire weather warnings about how the conditions were going to deteriorate the next day. We took the decision to travel all the way to Rosyth that day – it would have been embarrassing to miss the ship.

We now have our eighth Renault Grand Espace and a nervous breakdown on the cards as they have stopped making them! Earlier this year, I bought a used version, six months old and a great deal less expensive than an unavailable new one. By chance, this is a top of the range model and it has an amazing built-in TomTom navigation device. This Tom Tom talks to some master Tom Tom in the sky and it knows about traffic jams and queues ahead, offering an alternative route to avoid the problem.  It really worked overtime between Carlisle and Edinburgh and we enjoyed some really rural and scenic routes around flooding and blockages on the M74 and M8. Also, if you need local knowledge, such as the whereabouts of the nearest supermarket or petrol station, it will tell you!

We spent all Friday morning touring the Royal Yacht, “Britannia”, which is moored in Edinburgh (Leith). She is a beautiful vessel, fascinating to visit. I hesitate to discuss the politics of the situation but I left with a great feeling of sadness that such a magnificent ship was no longer representing our country around the world and was now denied to our Queen, for whom it was the only place where she could relax completely. In the afternoon, following John Markham's maxim that “time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted”, I went to have a look at Rosyth. As a Cruise Terminal, it is, shall we say, basic and under construction. The ship moors a long way from the terminal, out in the open (no covered walkways) and a good way from the luggage drop and check-in areas. My main opinion was that, if the rain continued to persist, there would be wet people in abundance.

Saturday morning came and the persistence was horrendous, accompanied by really strong winds. We got wet and, as we hitched a lift to the ship, the bus driver said “I hope you're a better doc than the last one – they've got a body on board”. Sure enough, in the next room to our cabin lay a poor chap who had died the night before. Problems occurred and I had to deal with the undertakers, the police and the Procurator Fiscal's office to secure his removal before we sailed.

The cruise to Norway was quite busy from my point of view, with quite a lot of night work. One poor man developed serious heart failure and was found on deck at 5.30am. I put him in our Intensive Care Unit and worked on him until we docked at 9am and were able to send him to the hospital an hour away. He improved during the morning and, at noon, we started to have telephone calls telling us that he was discharging himself from hospital against their strong medical advice and would be retuning to the ship! He was told in no uncertain terms by me, the nursing sister, the captain, the patient's 90 year old partner and the port agent that this was extremely dangerous from his point of view and that he would not be readmitted to the ship. Sure enough, half an hour before we were due to sail, he appeared in a taxi and bounced off security at the bottom of the gangway. Guess who had to go down and “sort him out”. After a long chat, I persuaded him that, in the interests of his survival, he should go back to hospital. He agreed and sat in his taxi watching the ship leave port. Deannie comforted his partner, a game old thing, who was in floods of tears but unable to join him as they were not married and the insurance company would not allow it.

We had various other medical crises and amusing incidents and I may re-visit these in the future.

What, dear reader? You want to know about Deannie's new title – I nearly forgot. Those of you who have cruised will know that the company provides tours from the ship at each place visited. Deannie was asked to be the “Hostess” one one of these tours. The instructions were straightforward : “Here's your first aid kit and wooden lollipop with a tour number painted on it. If  anyone has an accident and has to come back to the ship – arrange a taxi and get a receipt. Above all, don't lose anybody or leave them behind” The sight of her walking along the quay, lollipop aloft , followed by a queue of passengers, will live with me for some time. Hence, the new title “Tour Hostess” or “Lollipop”. What do you think?   Best wishes,  Ian Nisbet.

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