A return to my local hospital this week – not because I am ill but to deliver food for the staff – and I dare I say it, but more cakes and muffins than govt guidelines on obesity might approve of.
That said, I am part of a wholesome and warm endeavour which I am sure is familiar to many of you wherever you are in the world – local people feeling a need to do something worthy and very galvanising it is to. This particular operation is headed up a man I didn’t know before lockdown. His surname is Otter but he’s more Lion by example and the way he leads his team to provide food to clinics, hospitals, shelters and hostels. An ex-military man which is obvious to all – a man on a mission and leading his army of volunteers.
We take a photo outside the hospital and then he throws open the boot of his car; heavily laden with it seems, mostly cakes and muffins.
With his infectious energy he explains…
‘Took delivery of a tonne of muffin mix last week. It was going out of date. Bakery couldn’t use it. So I mobilised twelve hubs to get baking. Each hub organising and coordinating people cooking in their homes.’
This is some feat and I fight the urge to shout, “Sir, yes sir”.
He loads me up with box tray upon box tray and then he’s off – ahead of me and marching at pace.
‘Follow me’. He calls out.
Which is easier said than done. Longer legs perhaps but as likely, he is just much stronger.
It’s a hospital that has been very kind to the Holland family over the years.
All four boys were delivered here – on-time and in good order.
My broken leg was repaired here, twice.
Harry’s broken arm was reset.
Harry’s appendix was removed.
Nikki had an ectopic pregnancy operation.
Nikki’s eyes have been worked on – and particularly so when they realised who she’d married.
Plus numerous other minor procedures less noteworthy but gladly received at the time.
And so it feels nice to be back and armed with food, as Commander Otter continues his charge at a pace so fierce I wonder how out of date this muffin mix is and how pressing is their consumption?
We pass the outdoor garden for paediatrics – designed and kitted out by Momentum – a local charity that The Brothers Trust support. This year, we will give them £50k towards their work for families with kids battling cancer and other life limiting conditions. As I pass, I would wave – if I had a free arm – and I have no time because The Lion King is now way off in the distance.
It occurs to me that he might have given me the heaviest muffins – and he’s got meringues?
I inject some pace and get within a respectable distance. The hospital is spotless I note and I think of the cleaners who are rarely thought of or praised.
We round a corner and a bunch of medics in their greens are congregated. Nurses, doctors and surgeons. We are definitely a high point of their day.
‘What have we got here?’ A middle aged doctor calls out – and I fire back quick as a flash.
‘Sore arms but don’t mind me, I’ll be fine. Stand down.'
Finally we get to the room and we can unload – what feels like a few miles from his car. I am out of breath and I can’t straighten my arms but I manage to conceal this from Rambo.
He is a remarkably good bloke – and to all the volunteers up and down and across this country and others – their community efforts are certainly the upside of this lockdown and no doubt, they will live long in the memory.
And finally, speaking of Lockdown upsides...
Some people love lockdown of course. Being paid to be at home and do very little – not that many people will admit to such a thing.
Others much less so. The people who are unable to work from home and who have insufficient savings to mitigate their plummeting income. This is not me, but I do miss working. That feeling of doing a gig and getting back to my car.
But whenever lockdown eases and finally ends – I expect that stand-up comedians will be amongst the last workers to get back at it. And like the voluntary groups, people are keen to find their lockdown upside. A distraction and something to show for their time indoors. Me included and so after some deliberating, I have decided to write a new novel. A novel with a twist and I don’t just mean a plot device.
I am going to write this novel on-line.
And whether I eventually publish it or not as a book, it will be my lockdown novel.
A sequel to Only in America – reprising the characters, Milly and Jonson.
I am six chapters in and I am about to publish them on my Patreon site.
So if you’ve read Only in America (free on Amazon) – and you fancy something novel (gettit!) you can see how a novel evolves – and as a further twist - you can critique as I write and also make suggestions.
I have a story in mind – but that’s not to say my ideas will be better than yours. And if your ideas are better than mine – then believe me, they will be used.
It’s said that we each have a book in us. This will be my 7th. And if nothing else, you can share in the pain and the joy that is gestating and giving birth to a novel.
Working title – An English Lesson Set to Music – which will become clear on reading – but even this is open to suggestions.
All very welcome – but particularly clever types with great ideas and with a keen eye for typos.