Exercise 1: Write a monologue of a real-life event that has happened to you.
The Horrors of Hinchingbrooke (Hospital)
The queue strerches out in front of me, curving around and coming all the way back again. Damn. Should have got an earlier bus. There’s only five minutes until my appointment, and at least ten minutes of queue. Why do I even need to book in? What’s the point? If I turn up, they know – because I see the doctor (around half an hour late, on average). If I don’t, they know – and sennd me one of those terse letters about how much money missed appointments cost the NHS.
I’m so tempted to leave. Standing still for ages is killing my back. By the time I get in there, it’ll be twice as bad as it was in the first place. And the woman in front keeps turning round, all casual, pretending she’s just gazing about. But it’s so obvious she just wants another look at me. Perhaps I’ve got chocolate round my mouth; knew I shouldn’t have had that galaxy bar on the way. Or perhaps it’s a huge spot. That’s probably the Galaxy’s fault, too.
Oh God. She’s turning round and looking right at me.
“Needingworth!” she shrieks, in a jolly hockeysticks voice. She sounds like one of those aunts in P.G. Wodehouse novels.
“Needingworth! That’s where I know you from!”
“Er..I don’t think so.”
She glares at me. I’m shrinking into my boots a little.
“Are you sure?” She looks like she seriously doubts that I could be sure of anything. I find myself noddding like one of those Churchill dogs in a car window.
“Yes…I’ve never even been to Needingworth.”
“Somewhere nearby then? I know I know you from somewhere! I NEVER forget a face.” Her eyes dare me to argue, and I’m actually taking a step back. Which is awkward, because in this queue, there’s not a lot of room for maneuver. I can feel an ingratiating smile sliding on to my face. Wimp.
“Perhaps I’ve got a doppelganger, then. I live in Buckden – and I’ve only lived in Cambridgehsire for a year.”
“Hmm. I’m sure I’ve seen you in Needingworth.” She’s looking down her nose at me, as though she’s looking for a tell. Any sign of deceit in my face.
Oh, thank God! She’s turned her back on me. Sorted. The queue’s shuffling forward a little. Those pecan plaits on the cafe counter look yummy. Wonder if there’ll be any left when I’m done. The smell of coffee is driving me mad.
Now what? Suddenly the Needingworth Nutter, as she’s now fixed in my head, is leaning right back against my shoulder, still facing forward. She talks out the side of her mouth in a vicious hiss.
“I wish I had some scissors right now!”
My fingers are tingling. They always do when I’m nervous. “Sorry?”
“Scissors!” She’s making a snapping motion in the air with her fingers. “I’d take them to that chap down there. SNIP SNIP SNIP! Look at him!” She jabs a finger forwards and I’m following her gaze to a man, early fifties, with shoulder length grey hair. He’s just a few places in front. “Look at all that hair! Disgusting! So long and greasy!” She snaps her fingers together. “SNIP, SNIP. Eww, it makes me feel SICK!”
Oh God. That was loud. Everyone’s staring at us, including long hair man. I’m sure he heard. I’m trying to look apologetic whilst putting as much space between me and nutter woman as I can. I look away and fix my eyes on the front of the queue. There’s still at least twenty people in front. I’m doomed.
Exercise 2: Take the same episode and write a second monologue or first-person account about it from another’s POV
It suits me well, this job. My mates laughed when I applied for it. ‘Patient Transport! S’pose that means you have to wait round for it! Not like Impatient Transport!’ Yeah – hilarious, they are. And they were wrong – I don’t get pissed on and thrown up over (well, hardly ever).
Steve and Cyril are out doing the regular runs. They’re picking up a whole batch of people and bringing them into the hospital for their appointments. It means some people get have a long wait for ‘til their appointment, but at least they get here safe. And free. Later the boys’ll take ‘em home again, once the morning clinics are finished. Same in the afternoon, of course. I’ve done my share of that. But these days I sit in our special section at the end of the Booking In desk. I’ve got my list here in front of me, so I can keep track of which patients are done, who’s being taken home by family, all that kind of thing. Me and Ron are manning the desk as usual (or should that be menning the desk, heh heh!). Wonder if we’ll have any one-offs today. That’s when one of us has to take or collect patients who aren’t on the list. Or perhaps they’ve stayed in for tests or x-rays and missed the regular run back. Can be all sorts. If that happens today, me ‘n Ron will toss a coin, like we always do. Fair’s fair. If not, we’ll just watch the world go by. It’s not bad.
Sayin’ that, sometimes it’s boring if we don’t get called out. And we like to be helpful. The booking girls are lovely, and sometimes they’re rushed off their feet. There’s no point us sitting on our arses when we can help, is there? So we do little jobs for them, most days. Running paperwork about, looking for missing patients…in a minute I’ll run over the cafe and get Sally a sarnie. She wants chicken salad and they sell out of those real quick. Bless her, she already knows she won’t get a lunchbreak. She’s a trooper, is Sally. I’ll go and put the kettle on in a mo. I can tell Ron’s dying for a tea, he keeps on doing that fake cough. Lazy git. I’ll see if the girls want one too. That’s if I can get round the side of this queue. Bloody enormous today, although it’s only early. Two of the terminals are down. Jen and Maggie are having to book people in on paper! What a shock for ‘em! Bloody technology. It’s wormed its way in all over, and minute it goes down, we’re all up shit creek without a paddle.
Hold on – what’s going on in the line? They’re like pilchards over there, but that blonde woman’s trying to go backwards. You must be mad, love, you’re going the wrong way and it’s taken you ten minutes to move that foot forward. Looks like she’s having a bit of a to-do with that woman in front. Gawd, she’s got a voice like a foghorn. What’s she going on about Needingworth for? Ah, well, never mind. Looks like it’s all calmed down. Foghorn Woman’s turned back round. Blonde Woman looks relieved. Right, off to that kettle. Ron looks half-asleep now. Let’s give him a prod with my biro. Heh! That woke him up, the daft bugger.
Right, I’ll have to cut through the queue…hold on a minute. She’s off again. What’s she on about now? She wants SCISSORS? And she’s got a right vicious look on her face. Blonde Woman looks terrified. Think I’ll radio security – here it is, let me key it up…need to try and move closer – what will I do if she flips? Rugby tackle ‘er?… er, yeah, Mike, I think we might have a situation – hang fire, Mike, I’ll get back to you. What’s she saying? She wants to cut his hair? She’s right off her trolley, this one. Looks like she’s harmless, though. Yeah, Mike, stand down. I think we’re ok. Thank God I’ve got short hair. Right, this bloody kettle’s not going to boil itself…