I find it astonishing and wonderful, the extent to which the NHS employs incredibly complex and clever technology on a daily basis. The fact that I don’t understand what any of it is doing no longer fazes me. I think of the thousands of hours I’ve spent under the bonnets of cars, and, indeed, under cars, replacing various bits and pieces. When I look under the bonnet of a car now it’s to refill the screenwash. I understand nothing else that I look at. I have no idea what any of it does. But it doesn’t stop me getting in the car switching on the engine, and assuming that it’ll all work. And the fact is, it works a lot better than all those cars I owned that I knew how to mend (mainly because they broke down, and my new cars don’t). It’s not a precise analogy, but I think of it every time I read this poem that my co-author Andy Blackford sent me. He sent it from his hospital bed in Papworth, waiting for a bit of kit that would make his heart more reliable. God bless the NHS.
On the blink
Two screens flank this clever bed.
One is my Hospimedia.
The News looks bad – the picture’s slashed
by pixelated bands,
the sound is intermittent.
The email has a dodgy keyboard
doubling up one characcter, deleting three.
The other screen is monitoring me.
It’s picked up nasty habits
from its wayward friend.
The trace that should be docile and predictable
is bucking like a bullock in an abattoir.
Be still, my pixelating heart.
[First published in Gap Year: [Andy Blackford and John Foggin. SPM Publications 2017.]
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