There are places rich in creative ore, where reefs of productive concepts are there to be surveyed, to be mined. How many of us can resist hovering, fingering our notebooks and voice recorders, when we unexpectedly come across an argumentative wedding party, or a clapping and dancing benevolence of mourners, or an aggrieved divorce group tripping empty-handed down the steps outside the myopic doors of the court house? We see thousands of words when we espy an abandoned pram in a shopping centre, when we hear the door of a women’s refuge slam shut, when the madam of a well-known house of disrepute delivers a well stuffed money bag to her local bank.
We all have our favourite sources of inspiration. One of mine is hospitals. Any sort, any size. I’m not fussy. But I can’t simply go and sit in the waiting room – my visit must be purposeful, to be driven by need. I spend any number of waking hours waiting to fall ill or to break another leg or for my family, friends and neighbours to do likewise, but am largely disappointed.
But today, today, I had to get a check-up x-ray, oh delight of delight. Today, a week day, busy in the hospital, a shortage of nurses, porters, failing computer systems, today I envisaged hours of waiting rooms, any number of pages filled with hurried but publisher-friendly scribbles.
I have, of course, written before about my local hospital and its staff and patient service, oh yes. But little did I know that my feeble words had fallen into the hands of these doctors and nurses and that they intended to have their revenge.
And today they had it; revenge short, sharp and brutal. Hardly had I registered with reception than I was x-rayed and shunted out the front door. As usual everyone was caring, friendly and concerned. I was in there for less than fifteen minutes, hardly enough time to chew the top of my pen. Not a word written.