Listen to Karen tell the story…
My little bestie drove me to my MRI appointment, just before Christmas, to a hospital further afield than our local one, so we used her sat nav. Jaysus, it gave us a lovely scenic drive, so scenic, that when we passed a lovely pub, down a country lane I noticed a sign outside and read the advertisement aloud, ‘Three courses for £8.00’. My bestie looked at me quizically and asked ‘Three horses for £8.00’? ‘No’, I replied, laughing, thinking I should lend her my hearing aids, ‘not horses..courses’. What would we have be doing with feckin horses, it’d be food we’d need, after that trek to the hospital. However, the thought of three horses for £8.00 set u s off in a fit of giggles, in fact, her eyes filled with tears from the laughter, so much so that she had to pull in to the side of the road, take off her sunnies and dry her eyes with a tissue, before continuing the journey. We made a firm decision, there and then, to go back to that pub and have the courses, all three of them for that bargain price, once we’d got the aul MRI sorted.
Having arrived at the hospital, which looked very nice, we headed straight to the cafe and bought a couple of coffees, checked out the talent, as you do, sure there’s always fine things in the coffee shop of a hospital, with or without stethoscopes. We eventually made our way to the MRI department, after a few false starts, very nearly going into the Endoscopy ward at one stage, God forbid. Having read the sign above the door we had been about to push open, we scurried past and continued our journey to a more appealing destination. Once there, having checked in, we settled ourselves in comfy chairs and bless the staff, they were lovely, even when we were entertaining each other, laughing raucously about ridiculous things that ‘we’ found funny.
Initially having been referred for the MRI, I had been expecting to wait a month for the appointment, such was the waiting list at the point of referral but instead had been given a date within three weeks. The reason for this had been explained by the clerical officer who had booked the appointment, ie this hospital had two MRI scanners. How lucky was I? The answer to that question was soon answered, when a handsome young fella came out to greet me and I was just about ready to rip off my clothes, though it was only my neck that was being scanned, when he explained something to me. My scheduled appointment would be on time, however, it was being done in their mobile unit. Mobile feckin unit, well I ask you, what was that all about?
The handsome young fella directed me towards the door and explained which corridors and right and left turns I had to take to get to this second scanner, mobile or otherwise. Jaysus, if this was a test of my dexterity, the reward would be actually finding the feckin thing. It was a cold day outside and the cute young fella offered for my bestie to stay where she was in the waiting area, as there’d be nowhere for her to sit in the mobile unit. The cute hoor, opted for relaxing in the warmth, enjoying the view, so with a heavy heart, off I went on my orienteering mission. Passing the endoscopy department once again, I thought how much worse it could be and thanked the Lord for that as I walked swiftly by.
Having negotiated numerous corridors as well as right and left turns, I eventually found the car park, wrapping my coat around me to protect myself from the cold breeze, albeit on a beautiful sunny day. Jaysus, by the time I found this feckin place, I wouldn’t be offering to take off any clothes, though, knowing my luck, I’d probably have a grumpy aul fella doing the scan.
In the meantime, I did some scanning of my own, shielding my eyes from the sun with my right hand, searching for the elusive scanner on wheels. ‘Jesus Mary and Joseph, no way’, I exclaimed as ahead of me, in the distance was, none other than a camper van. No, surely be to God they hadn’t put an MRI unit in there. Sure I knew the NHS was having a bit of bother but that was taking the proverbial mick. It’s seldom I’m speechless, as any of my friends will testify, in fact if I’m not talking, or eating, I’m very likely dead, or dying at the very least. However, standing there, with my mouth hanging open, oblivious now to the cold breeze, I stared in amazement. What seemed like minutes but was likely seconds later, the camper van slowly pulled out of the parking space, and horror quickly replaced my initial shock and disbelief as I thought, ‘Jaysus, I’ve missed my appointment, the feckers have taken their lunch break early. probably heading off to the McDonalds, to park up and grab a sneaky burger meal. They could hardly bring that contraption through the drive thru though in fairness they’d be travelling incognito as it didn’t have an NHS sign on its side. Good job, the state of it would represent the state of the health service, they’d be the butt of lots of jokes. Jaysus they could have had a healthier 3 courses for £8 at that pub’.
Relief returned once more as the vacant space, left by the exit of the camper, revealed a clear view of a larger static unit behind it, with the welcome initials N H S emblazoned on the side. What looked like the sort of clear plastic sheeting that could be described as an awning, extended from the van and the first thought that entered my head was ‘it’ll be feckin freezing in there, I hope they have outdoor heaters, imagine putting an MRI scanner in a tent’. I tried not to be judgemental, really I did, in fact I just walked around the other side looking for a door and sure there was one, with a little wooden step up to it. Just the one step, like a block. Up I climbed and though the door didn’t have any indication that it was the entrance, it did have a sign, written in a few different languages, none of them English though. I was sure I could hear noise inside, it was the sound that you hear from an MRI and I thought, ‘There’s no way they’re going to hear me above that racket’.
About two minutes later, I decided to try to get into the van a different way. Walking back around the other side, there right in front of me was a ramp, with the awning to one side of it. ‘Feckin eejit’ I admonished myself, ‘you were on the wrong side of the van and the MRI is inside, not in a tent at all’. The entrance on this side had a bell and having pressed it, the door was opened by a fine thing and sure wasn’t there another fine thing behind him. They were lovely and welcoming, bless them. ‘Are you the aul one due for an MRI’ one of them asked. Ah no, I’m only having you on, he did in his arse. He was very courteous and showed me to a cubicle. Just as I was preparing to remove my jumper, the hot young fella told me I could keep my clothes on. I was a bit disappointed to be honest, it would have been nice having a young fella asking me to take my clothes off, even if it was in an NHS van but sure the aul bod is held together with cellulite and prosthetics at this stage so it was probably as well. Nonetheless, he did suggest that I take my bra off because of the metal clip, I suppose that was better than nothing. Mind you, I still had to leave my jumper on, so without the bra, gravity made an absolute show of me.
Anyway, in I went, lay on the bed and sure they gave me ear plugs, then earphones, to listen to the radio. I was thinking that was a bit of a contradiction, how could you listen to the radio if you had ear plugs in. Mind you those earphones were the massive ones like the lads wear on the runways when they’re directing the flights in. But being an aul one who wears a hearing aid, they were feck all use to me. Especially with the noise of that MRI clicking and whirring and humming. Next was a type of plastic mask they slotted over my face. Jaysus I felt like I was a celebrity in the jungle and by the time I was slid into the tomb of the machine, I was expecting the spiders or rats or whatever to be poured in. It was grand, only fifteen minutes, no rats or spiders and then the nice young fellas came and let me out and I put my bra back on, defying gravity once again, thanked them and went off to find my resting bestie.
Retrieving the car from the car park, we began our journey back to the horses or courses pub and once we had reached that familiar country lane, howled with laughter yet again, at the thought of 3 horses for £8. Deciding that we’d need to contact our landlady and extend our lease to include the parking space out the back, to accommodate the three horses, we passed a tractor pulling a trailer, carrying a lone bale of hay and considered that as food for the bargain horses, though one bale may not have sufficed.
Driving through the entrance of the parking area of the pub, pausing to read the billboard we had passed earlier, our banter stopped dead. There in smaller writing below the advertisement for our bargain menu, were the dates for the deal, the first of which was two weeks away. No
bargain food for us giddy girlies today. And sure, Jaysus we couldn’t wait two weeks to eat. There was nothing for it. We’d just have to see what they had on the menu.
Finding a table, we placed ourselves comfortably on the seats and ordered our food, realising that today, one course was £12.50 so if we exchanged horses for courses, we’d only be bringing one horse home, instead of three and sure that one bale of hay would be grand, we could put it on the roof of my bestie’s car. It might leave a bit of a dent, but sure we could find a nice aul panel beater and he’d sort it out for us.
We had the craic, pulling the crackers that were kindly provided, being the festive season, delighted with our silly gifts inside and proceeded to put our party hats on. . As I opened mine and tried to fit it on my rather large head, my bestie advised ‘Hun, you need to pull it out a bit more’, directing me to open up the paper hat a little bit wider. ‘Story of my life’, I replied, as we collapsed into more giggles. Being the only customers in the pub as it was only about 12 noon, was just as well because we just got louder and louder, such was our ability to entertain each other. More tears rolled down my bestie’s cheeks as I held my sides with the laughter. What a picture we must have looked, in our party hats, reading the jokes from the crackers, only interrupted by the waitress or waiter bringing drinks or food. At that stage we had opted for more courses, horses long forgotten as we enjoyed every morsel.
Leaving the pub with full bellies, customers were filing in and considering the way we were holding each other up, still laughing, we must have looked as if we had had a tipple or two. Not an alcoholic sip had passed our lips, we were intoxicated with fun.
Just as we drove out of the car park, party hats still firmly on our heads, a large van was attempting to drive in. My bestie flashed her lights in a kind gesture to allow the vehicle to pass first and as it did, we both glanced simultaneously at the letters emblazoned on the side, looked at each other and we were off again…N H S. It may not have been the MRI hotties, in fact it could have been blood donor cuties but one thing was for sure, they’d better not be looking for three courses, or they’d need a lot more than eight pounds.
“…As long as that guy was working in the vegetable shop, there was never a lack of potatoes in our house”