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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 3, September 2016

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Matthew Paul
Surbiton, Surrey, England


The Trauma Unit

Shifted along three cubicles to make way for something incoming and much more traumatic, Dad’s closed his eyes to the fridge-white lights, gadgetry and coiling drips, and beeps from the monitor charting, like a map of the South Downs’ contours, his heart-rate’s incredible vicissitudes—one instant forty-five, the next a hundred and forty-five and rising, then plummeting again, and so on.

The duty doctor, moisturised young and fresh in buttoned-down shirt and brand-new chinos, looks bamboozled, calls for a Cardio consultant, and stays instead on firmer ground, by rousing Dad from his snooze to take the dementia comprehension test:

“Hello Sir, I’m going to ask you a few questions if I may.”

Dad, neither consenting nor not, frowns his facescape further.

“Firstly, can you tell me what year it is, please?”

Dad shuts his eyes again. “Pass.”

“When did the Second World War start?”

“3rd September, 1939. I was there.”

“Very good,” beams the doc. “Now then, who’s our reigning monarch?”

“Well, the last time I checked it was Queen Elizabeth the Second.” Smiles all round.

“How did you get here today, Mr. Paul?”

“In a bloody ambulance, of course.” It’s just me who grins this time.

“Can you remind me how old you are now, please?”

“Oh, ninety-one or so.” He’s eighty in fact, and won’t answer any more questions; much like the doctor, who tells me only that the cardiologist will be down when she’s free. We settle in for the evening.

humidity . . .
I flick through the book
straight to the end-matter

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end

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