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Ay up it's EVANS; The sorry sights and sick sounds of A&E.

IF Del Boy had clocked him, he would have said that the bloke with his head in a sling looked a right plonker.

A bandage tied round and round, from chin to bonce, with one of those dainty bows on top, just begged laughter when he arrived at the accident and emergency department at Nuneaton's George Eliot Hospital.

But we risked laughter at our peril. He was bare-chested, beer-bellied and boozed-up. Blood was seeping through the bandage from the vicinity of his right ear lobe, which had apparently been damaged in a pub scrap.

He swaggered and staggered around. With all the bloodstains on his baggy jeans, he could have passed for a slaughterman. He certainly had the air of a caveman carnivore about him.

I was convinced he had some animal connection because he kept saying: "You should see the state of the other heifer." Or something like that.

And he was constantly moaning and cussing about how long he was being kept waiting.

Sitting in the A&E Department on a sweltering Saturday evening bet-ween 6pm and 8.30pm was not my idea of an entertaining weekend, though it did have its distractions, however unwelcome.

I'd accompanied my 14-year-old daughter who had fallen from a great height - her platform shoes. Dangerous things, those Elton Johns. My offspring is at least 19ft tall when she wears them and I worry about her vertigo and her nose bleeds.

She had hurt her foot, not seriously, but it was better to have the experts cast a clinical glance over the damage.

But if the swaggering, swearing, staggering so-and-so who strutted in and out of the waiting area was a carnivore, then Evans Junior, on doctor's orders, suddenly became a vegetarian. Of sorts.

To take down the swelling she was told to use a cold compress, like a packet of frozen peas. We were fresh out of frozen peas, but I can honestly vouch for the medicinal value of frozen cauli. Lumpy, yes, but cold enough to be effective.

Don't know about you, but when I'm stuck for what seems an eternity in a waiting area like an airport lounge, a supermarket queue or an A&E department, I find people watching a welcome distraction.

I've already told you about the caveman. There were others at A&E who insisted on telling the world and his wife about their mishaps.

Like the strange young man who collared me while I was getting some fresh air outside. "I've broken my thumb nine times," he insisted. And while he was telling me the life history of his thumb, the said thumb was being used to clean his bifocals.

Like the lad who had gone swimming at Ensor's Pool, a haven for wildlife in Nuneaton, and had ripped his back on a jagged rock. And the young lady who, locked out, decided to bang so hard on the window that her right hand went through the glass and cut her forearm.

No-one within my hearing moaned about the two-hour waiting time. After all, there were REAL emergencies behind the curtains.

But as I left at 8.30pm wondering whether I'd got a bag of peas in the freezer, I pondered how over-worked staff would deal with the blood- spattered, foul-mouthed plonker with the silly bandage and the poorly ear.

And I wondered what drunken dipsticks would stagger in after last orders, mouthing off and with booze-induced wounds, for women like your mum, your sister, your wife, or your daughter to deal with. Makes you think, doesn't it?
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Evans, Steve
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 7, 1999
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