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Dean Whitbread 2013

Dean Whitbread 2020

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Written on September 9, 2004, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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“Practise Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty” says the postcard in my living room. Today my random act of kindness was to the people waiting with me in hospital, mostly for an ECG (heart scan) while I waited for my EEG (brain scan) – which turned out to be a nerve test just on my arm. I have a left hand which sometimes goes numb after a road accident that happened 2 years ago. Turns out I have nerve compression at the elbow.

The pleasant middle-aged woman next to me with head stuck in a book was long-sufferingly and quite good-naturedly complaining about the numbering system that the heart patients were enduring. It was going 62, 64, 65, 66, 68, 67, 67… she said she was 70, and been here over 40 minutes. I thought, she doesn’t look a day over 50. Ha ha. Said nowt. Don’t want to make stupid jokes at a sensitive time of life, nearly got me the sack once. I got a written warning for being too cheerful when I worked at the Unemployment Centre in Croydon. “People may think you are laughing at them.” The fact that there had been no complaints made no difference – dour was the way of Dole.

My neighbour in the green chair section 3a murmured and muttered. “They think we don’t have another life. Nothing better to do.” I said, sympathetically, “they’ll be going backwards next” and she smiled. I then said, “still, at least you have a number, you are lucky” and she looked toward me curiously. I continued, “you see, I’m here for a head scan.” I tapped my forehead, as she looked at me. “They don’t trust us with numbers, but they think we might still remember our name.” She laughed at that, and we talked briefly, relieving the tension.

A man behind, round with Fu Manchu whiskers and piercings more often seen in someone younger, said: “Chest ? Heart and Lung scan ?” No, I thought. But he seemed to want to join in, so I smiled. Encouraged, he continued, “They know who you are.” Very Zen, I thought. I bit my tongue, and just said nowt, except “Thanks.” Then, so he didn’t feel left out, “I feel heartened.” Oops, I thought immediately, maybe he thought I was taking the piss. I cast the thought from my mind. You can’t win them all. On a random kindness roll, before my turn came I reassured a elderly man who smelled strongly of stale alcohol that no, he, like the other head cases, didn’t need a number. Except perhaps, I thought, of a good laundry.

I met up later with my gorgeous girlfriend, and we went to the South Bank this evening, it was beautiful, warm, romantic. We kissed; we chatted about everything. It was a lot nicer than the electric shocks, the wires and the needles. I felt relaxed and happy.

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This thing has 2 Comments

  1. rae
    Posted 15 September, 2004 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Reading that post made me feel the way I always feel when I listen to “Such Great Heights” by the Postal Service. I love that song. It makes me feel retardedly optomistic and really sad all at once – just like your post.

    And “taking the piss”. What is THAT about? I wish I was English – I want to say things that make no sense, but seem like they do. England is like an entire country with Wernicke’s aphasia – & I mean that in the most affectionate way possible. 😀

  2. Indigobusiness
    Posted 7 December, 2005 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    This reminds me of the Jack Womack novel I was compelled to buy but never read:

    Random Acts of Senseless Violence.

    “One of the most moving and heartbreaking novels of the year.”

    -Publishers Weekly

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