This time the Burrower is delighted to welcome the Black Cat as Guest Blogger, who’s witty stories always amuse and entertain.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy “The Book Group”… 

A notice on the wall reads; “This is a busy department. Every effort is made to keep the waiting time as short as possible.”

I never really liked Julia Plantaganet.

“Estimated non-urgent waiting time 3 – 4 hours. Doctor on Duty Dr. Oliver.”

So, as I never really liked her why am I sitting beside Julia Plantagenet – (‘Of course, Daddy always said that we were descended from the kings of England’,) sitting on an uncomfortable pink plastic chair in A&E at midnight. Sitting staring at a door with a yellow sign telling me it is an Accessible Toilet.

Julia Plantagenet is in my book group and can always be relied on to give a long resume of the story which we’ve all read. Tonight it was Madame Bovary.
“Perhaps the rest of you don’t, but I found it very painful” she sobbed just before she rushed to the toilet. When she left the room there were raised eyebrows and silence until Giles whispered,
“How much longer must we put up with her…”
Then there was a scream. Julia Plantagenet rushed back, hands poised in mid air, dripping blood all over Giles’ new beige carpet. She yelled that she had fallen against the edge of the bath and cut her leg. As Giles stuttered an apology and rushed to get a towel to stem the blood, it was generally agreed that Julia must go to A&E immediately. After all, she was eighty and lived alone. Everyone looked at me; I was the only one with a car.

The car journey had been silent except for Julia’s sighs and complaints about other members of the book group and the dangerous edge of Giles’ bath. Although it was dark and chilly at nine o’clock, I wound down a window – Julia Plantagenet was not as careful as she should have been about personal hygiene.

The waiting room is packed and because Julia is sobbing and dripping blood onto the floor we are hurried in to see a triage nurse. Julia doesn’t look at the nurse, but admits that her skin is thin and prone to bleeding because she takes steroids; But she protests that is not the cause, it’s Giles’ dangerous bath.

All is quiet in the small A&E waiting room, some people studying their mobiles, until a little girl starts singing “You Are My Sunshine”. When her parents eulogise she starts again – only louder until Julia shouts “Ssh!”

I look up yet again at the clock on the wall. Sitting on the other side of me, a fat woman with tears trickling down to her double chins, shuffles a plastic bag, dabs her eyes with a crimson scarf and says. “Of course, Mum, you know Neville drinks like a fish. Always keeps a bottle of vodka in the car. He gave me his word this time…” The older woman next to her shouts “Who?”

At 2.00a.m. a door opens and a doctor says, “Miss Plantagenet?” I turn to Julia and realize that she is asleep. The doctor calls again, “Miss Julia Plantagenet?” Julia struggles to her feet. She ambles in, wincing with every step and tells the doctor about Giles’ treacherous bath. The doctor bandages her leg, says no, there is no need to refer her to the Fracture Clinic and I drive her home.

She doesn’t thank me when she gets out of the car, but shouts that she’ll never return to the book group. I mumble that’s a shame, and wonder how early the next morning I can phone the rest of the group to tell them the good news.

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