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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Mr Topsyturvy and Beryl

7:30am. I've just walked onto the ward and I'm sipping a cup of tea whilst checking through blood test results from the previous night. All around me is the gentle sound of snoring and the occasional rustle as someone turns over in bed. I love this ward because the nursing sister always makes me a cup of tea in the morning (and if she's feeling especially generous, there'll be two little chocolate digestive biscuits acoompanying it).

A scream pierces the silence.


I look around in surprise. Who is Beryl? There aren't any nurses on this ward called Beryl.


Some nurses emerge from around the corner.


"Who's Beryl? And what's with all the shouting?", I ask the nearest nurse.

"Beryl? Where are you Beryl? BERYL!!!"

"Oh, it's the new guy in sideroom 3," she sighs, "He's just been transferred over from Central Hospital. 85 years old, deaf, slightly confused. He goes on like this whenever he's awake."


"Any reason why he's in a sideroom? He's not infectious, is he? And he doesn't sound all that sick."

"BERYYYYYLLLL!!!", says Sideroom 3 in agreement.

The nurse smiles wanly. ("BERYL!") It must've been a long night for her. "We moved him to the sideroom because one of the other patients tried to strangle him after listening to him shout for an hour"

"So, what's with all this 'Beryl', then? He's not trying to pull some 'rosebud' thing on us, is he?"

"BERYL!!! Come on, Beryl!"

Right, I say to myself, it's time to stop the shouting.

I walk into sideroom 3, and there sits this elderly gentleman. He's had a major operation on his skull to remove a large collection of blood that had seeped over his brain following a very bad fall. He has lost the use of one eye, which rolls around in all directions, giving him a topsy-turvy sort of appearance.

"BERYL!!!", he shouts at me, by way of greeting.

"Hello, Mr Topsyturvy, is anything the matter?"

"Where's my bottle of pop?" he demands, waving his hands imperiously, "I want my bottle of pop."

I see that his family have kindly left a crate of Pepsi for him, tucked away from sight in one corner of the room. "Hang on there, I'll fetch you some."

As I pour out the Pepsi into a two-handled plastic mug, Mr Topsyturvy inspects me with his good eye.

"You're not Beryl," he observes, "Where's Beryl?"

"You're in hospital now."

He takes in this new piece of information. "Ah. So Beryl's not here now."

I hand him his mug of Pepsi. He mumbles his thanks and starts chugging it down whilst I leave the room.

Later on during the week, Mr Topsyturvy has caught on that half the nurses on the ward are named 'Marie'.

"MARIE!!!" he bellows belligerently down the corridor, "MARIE!!!"

And then, hopefully, "BERYL???"

We visit him everyday, and the consultant comes to see him twice a week. Our consultant is a stiffbacked fellow who always looks like there's too much starch in his shirt collars. Mr Topsyturvy is unafraid of Dr Starch's unfriendly appearance.

"Hello darling!!" he says, cheerfully grabbing Dr Starch by the hand. He pats Dr Starch on the head and gives him a kiss on the cheek, oblivious to the looks of horror on our faces.

"Beryl came to see me yesterday," he whispers, "She's my lady friend you know."

Dr Starch's face is frozen in a shocked smile. He beginning to sweat and looks like his skin will crack from the strain at any moment. The nursing sister shakes her head surreptitiously. Only Mr Topsyturvy's family have been to visit, and they have no idea who 'Beryl' might be.

"How nice for you," Dr Starch says hurriedly before escaping down the corridor.

A month goes by and we have finally found a nursing home with the appropriate rehabilitation facilities Mr Topsyturvy needs.

The afternoon of his departure, Marie helps him into the shower room (he wants to look nice when 'Beryl' comes to accompany him to the nursing home). As Marie turns the shower on for him, I hear him yell indignantly "MARIE!! I'M ALL WET!!!".

I'm smiling to myself when I turn round and see a tiny pink lady with snowwhite hair.

"May I help you?"

"Oh, I'm Beryl." says the pink lady, "I'm here to accompany Mr Topsyturvy to his new home."


Attempting to retain my compusure, I exclaim, "Oh! He talks about you all the time."

She blushes even more pinkly and says shyly, "His family don't know about me yet. It's a secret"


Oh, Mr Topsyturvy, you sly dog.



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