The Phil Collins Villainy

 “And now, for Godfrey in Chievley Ward, here’s Phil Collins with Another Day in Paradise”.
   It was  11:03am –  the exact  time each day he had arranged the signal with the orderlys.
Darren took off his headphones; there was no way he was listening to that dirge. He thought of the patients  and imagined their despair at the dreary tune. Infections, strokes,  and now Phil Collins. He gave a cruel smile. He counted 30 seconds for the dreadful song to take its effect and lull the already vulnerable to stupors. He knew that the orderlys had 3 minutes of this doleful descant to raid the bedside cabinets of the soporific before he roused them again with Matt Bianco’s Get Out Your Lazy Bed. He loved the irony of this. None of those suckers will have known they’ve even been asleep, let alone that a proportion of their grapes and Lucozade had been pilfered, his well-drilled orderlys  taking just enough that the unsuspecting invalids did not notice. The nurses turned a blind eye, after all it was they who would benefit from the results.
   After his show, Darren walked to his car in the shadowy area behind the morgue. Not even the patients who crept out for a secret ciggy would want to loiter there. He started the engine, knowing that the latest batch of fruit and fizzy drink had been stowed in his boot by his abettors.
   Colin sat at his desk, back from the monthly meeting of NHS Area Managers with reams of reports they had dumped on him.  ‘They draw up statistics about statistics’ he sighed to himself as he anticipated days of ploughing through the figures in order to generate even more Management Information demanded by his bosses at Regional. He found the whole exercise depressing and futile.
   Uninspired, he picked up Summary Report that highlighted where his Newbury General were out of line with the performance of peer hospitals. This showed a number of idiosyncrasies:
– The number of staff phoning the Confidential Chat Line for alcohol related issues was very high. Well, he’d seen the mess in the staff refectory in the morning so was not surprised.
– His was the only hospital where no staff at all had reported absence through scurvy. This seemed odd, although it occurred to him just how many fruiterers had opened in the vicinity of the hospital, all seeming to be doing a roaring trade in grapes if their windows were anything to go by. That was almost as strange as the Costa Coffee outlet being bought out by a shop that seemed to stock nothing but Lucozade.
– His hospital was getting through twice as much Germ-Off alcohol-based hand gel than any other.
   Next day, Colin received a letter of complaint from a Hubert Drummond, recently discharged patient from Newbury General after a 10-day stay to address an virrulent bout of cow ear. He described how every afternoon, despite his considering himself particularly alert for an 83 year old retired ex-chartered accountant after 40 years at Del Monte, he would find himself waking with a start after an uncharacteristic nap. In reaching for a refreshing grape and, being a man of numbers and fruit, he could tell at a glance that there were fewer grapes than before his slumber. In fact his wife, Sheilagh had to replenish his supply every day, which had become a financial drain to the tune of £47.45 going by the receipts she had provided him. The letter also provided the following information:

Grapes counted at midday
Grapes counted at 2pm
Thus number of grapes unaccounted for
12th May
13th May
14th May
15th May
N/A – Sheilagh failed to buy grapes
16th May
17th May
   The letter went on to explain at length his abhorrence that 20.47% of his grapes had vanished – representing a street value of £9.71. Apparently from 18th May until his discharge his instruction to Sheilagh to replace grapes with loganberries had resulted in no further numerical anomalies.
   Colin wrote back thanking him for his letter, expressing his regret for his loss but confirming that neither he nor the NHS could accept responsibility for loss of personal property. Having dealt with his type before, he anticipated that Hubert Drummond would not desist from taking this matter further so he attempted to appease him by adding that a ‘robust internal examination’ would be undertaken, though privately he wished to perform one personally without anaesthetic on Mr Drummond and all the other pedants and trouble makers who stole his valuable time. He screwed up Drummond’s letter, and aimed an unsuccessful throw at the bin across his room. It had been a long day, and he decided to have one drink at the staff refectory before he went home.
   Even with his years of experience in the NHS he was astounded by the number of off-duty nurses off their heads, all drinking some kind of fruit juice. He noticed something else about the inebriates: they all had healthy complexions with orangey stains around their lips.
   He walked up to the bar and asked for whatever it was the nurses were drinking. The barman served him a pint of ‘MouthRot’ as he called it, giving him a gummy grin and telling him it was the last of tonights vat, but there’d be more tomorrow. Colin was intrigued, but rather than sip any of the vile looking liquid, took it straight down to the hospital lab, leaving a note for it to be analysed as soon as possible.
   Ten days later Colin received a phone call saying the analysis was complete and went down to the lab.
   “Ah, you can drink that”, said the technician, pointing at a glass flask.’
   Colin picked it up, swirled the viscous orange liquid then took a swig. It was so vile he spat is out over the bench “God that’s horrible – what the hell is it?”
   “Lucozade”, said the technician, “Awful isn’t it. It forms 50% of that liquid you gave me. 25% is nothing more than grape juice, the rest is over here” as he turned to extract 2 squirts of Germ-Off alcohol based disinfectant from the wall-side dispenser.
   “Where?” asked Colin, looking for another flask and really having no time for charades for all his conviction in personal cleanliness in the medical community.
   “Over here” said Simon, holding out his hand. “I’m not sure where you got this mixture from but I’ve found it has two exciting properties. First, it acts as a strong antibiotic – the germs feast on the sugar before the alcoholic content wipes ‘em out. It’s brilliant stuff. I’m running tests to see if it can kill the MRSA virus.”
   “Really?” enthused Colin, who was bored being hounded by reporters every time his wards were closed down with the dreaded ‘superbug’. He imagined himself being the talk of regional meetings and even collecting his Nobel Prize for medicine, when his fizzy bubble burst.
   “It’s the second property that’s the bad news. It destroys tooth enamel upon contact.”
   That night,  unable to sleep, the pieces of this jigsaw circled his brain. OK, the alcoholism was normal nurse behaviour, but the plethora of greengrocers, the barman’s toothy grin, the unaccounted grape loss, Roger the NHS dentist flying to his Seychelles holiday in his own private jet – something was afoot.
   Next morning, he did what any sane individual would do – he loosened the bolts of his mother’s zimmer frame. He visited her in Flange ward and put a bunch of grapes on top of the bedside cabinet along with half a bottle of Lucozade, he first having marked the level of liquid against the label.
    “Bleedin’ grapes and a bottle of fizzy piss water? Some son you are.” Colin, who  was used to his mother’s curmudgeonly ways, kissed her forehead and left for the Scanning Room, from where he could monitor the movement of the grape into which he’d fitted a tracking device.
   After 4 hours staring at the screen, and listening to the ‘ping’ of the unmoving device every time the radar swept round, he did something he promised he’d never do – he turned on Radio Healing. It was 10:58am. He listened to Hospital News on the hour; apparently surgeons has performed a hospital record 12 amputations already that day –  all but one of them on the correct limb. Then Darren the DJ introduced Another Day.
   Bolek Sikowski was the orderly who’d ravaged Colin’s mum’s bunch. On the way to the meeting point he ate a couple of the contraband fruit and brought his gums down on something hard, so sluiced it down with a swig of filched Lucozade. Colin slept as the dot of the device plotted its way all the way through and then out of the hospital.
   Colin woke to find the ping now on the M4 and watched as the errant grape took a rest at Heathrow  before somehow making its way to Warsaw, as unbeknownst to him, Bolek had finished his shift and gone home to Poland for his holiday and to be fitted for false teeth. 24 hours later it appeared to enter the Polish sewage system.
   Convinced of a smuggling racket on his patch, Colin’s first concern was that he was missing out on a dishonest profit.

   He never did get to bottom of the situation, but he could spot an opportunity like a gastroenterologist can sniff out a flatulent colon. He struck a deal with Roger to supply all of the NHS dentures.  He bought shares in Glaxo SmithKline, who own Lucozade and launched the concoction in the alcopops market and as an alternative to Cillit Bang. The Polish Government bought it in industrial quantities to sanitize their sewer systems. He wrote to Hubert Drummond and persuaded  him to use his old Del Monte contacts to undercut the suppliers, the local grape stores, in exchange for a position as Head of Accounts for his corporate empire. Colin left the NHS and now lives in a Swiss castle where Phil Collins is believed to be one of his neighbours.
I hope you enjoyed that story. If you have 2 mins spare, add a comment to let me know what you think, if you have 5 minutes, add that comment then find another story on my site – there’s plenty to try.

Warsaw(,) as
supplier’s(,) the local

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