The World Comes to Papworth
I've only been a patient at Papworth Hospital once, a couple of decades ago. In those days it was known as the best heart hospital in the known universe. My GP, also located in Papworth, sent me for an x-ray. (My left hip, if I recall correctly.) After I got lost in a maze of Portakabins, a friendly New Zealander did the deed. The NHS mislaid my x-rays somewhere between the hospital and my GP. He chased them up and eventually received the not particularly informative message "no x-rays; no apparent problem".
I wondered if the hospital's reputation was well deserved.
However, the reputation evidently stands. Following chest pains yesterday, the Duke of Edinburgh turned up and had a stent installed. Naturally his family are visiting. Naturally the world's media have followed. Naturally some of us locals have gone for a gawp. I even saw a child on a bike. Wow! First time I've seen anyone else on a bike in Papworth. (In a ten-minute walk around my own much smaller village yesterday, I counted seven cyclists.)
The police are playing it low-key. One public entrance is coned-off. The very bored-looking driver in the police car nods at me. It must be a strange job — being bored, but probably hoping he has every reason to remain bored. The main entrance is surrounded by vans with satellite dishes. The hospital lawn is decorated with stepladders, tripods, cameras with giant lenses, and people hanging around doing nothing. It's 6°C with grey skies, and it rained heavily last night. What a way to spend Christmas Eve.
Under normal circumstances I might cycle round the hospital grounds and have a bite to eat in the small but friendly canteen, but I don't want to be a headache for any security people.
Elsewhere in the village, more SUVs litter the streets than usual. Some contain people typing away on laptops. Weird.
I wish the Duke, his family, and the rest of the world (especially cyclists), all the best this Christmas.