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George Streets Diary Friday

Twenty-four hours after arriving in hospital having injured myself attempting an impossible yoga position and the prognosis is grim.

This ageing edifice (the hospital, not me) is slowly crumbling away, apparently suffering from concrete bunions. New Labour has decided to do away with it and replace it with a shiny privately financedcommunity health installation.

Rumours circulating among nurses show government has the same plans for patients. It is known as Project M, and is just like Invasion of the bodysnatchers. If medical examination reveals patient to be insurance write-off then they will mysteriously disappear and be replaced with automaton in the image of the Peoples Idol Mandy.

The advantages of these robots are that they only need oiling once every six months (apart from the hair which needs greasing every 10 minutes); implanted chips ensure robots are always on-message; they are enthusiastic supporters of the Millennium Dome.

Experiments to make a William Hague model, to stamp out accusations of political bias, have so far floundered because electronic monotone voice sounds too animated.


Leaflet comes round explaining that the concession for this new PFI hospital has been recently let, after years of negotiation, to Doreens Florists.

Apparently they will be able to recoup 75% of the construction costs by upping the price of chrysanths in the hospital shop by 50p a bunch.

However, in order to get the revenue stream flowing like a mountain brook, Doreen has been granted permission to collect tolls from patients currently hospitalised.

Ticket barriers, just like those on the Underground, will be installed in the hospital entrance hall. On being admitted, patients will buy either a single or return ticket. Price will depend on the type of sickness, which is divided into different zones, the most expensive being the erogenous zone. Relatives can purchase Just Visiting tickets individually or in a Carnet book of 10 saving 35p.


NCE editor and part-time TV legend Val Cardigan Doonican arrives at my bedside. I managed to crawl in through a toilet window, he whispers. His news hound mind is so fogged after years of booze and fags that he thinks hes on a permanent under- cover investigation. Where can I get a G&T around here?

Look at the clock. Its only 7.30am. Val has brought me an obsolete laptop computer designed for people with laps reinforced with steel.

He wants me to write a feature on the consequences for the construction industry after Chumbawumba threw a bucket of water over John Prescott. We need to know its impact on the CTRL, grates Val, smoking three Gauloise cigarettes at once.


Decide to make a start on the feature. It takes two porters to lever open the laptop.

But as soon as I start typing, I get dizzy and ring the emergency buzzer. Its overwork, according to the junior doctor who was finishing a 60 hour shift.

I am forced to spend rest of the day watching re-runs of Aust- ralian soap operas. If I wasnt ill before, I am now.

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