A hotel bed in the Derbyshire Dales; in front of me, an open copy of Conrad’s Lord Jim; marking my place, a bookmark carrying a school photograph of my two youngest grandchildren; close by, an empty cup with a dried up rim, a cafetiére, long since empty and my pencil with an unfinished, even longer ago abandoned crossword. Also in the book, a calling card from the Rat Trap, a pub back home, which reminds me that there is a gap on a shelf amongst the collected, collected works awaits the return of its absent member.
Over the road at the Opera Theatre a play concerning a man’s struggle dealing with the failure of our NHS system during the illness and death of his aunt had brought tears to my day with memories stirred by being an almost scripted re-run of my own recent tragedies, the loss of my mother and father.
Seduced by Morpheus I re-hallucinate a night of captivity in a secret location where I am a wired up guinea pig fashion, immobilised and drugged. Sprightly silver-furred, spiky creatures whiz along the rails above my prison bed dashing to and fro upon some deadly purpose connected with this incarceration and the experiments which violate every orifice about my person. Peritonitis can do that sort of nightmare, I have discovered this the hard way.
As the flashback fades and the book and the hotel bed return to focus in my still dozy but recovering consciousness my last image is of a pretty little Lithuanian nurse, Alex, the nurse who had found me thrashing around on a windowsill attempting to escape with my wires and tubes flailing about like a frantic Egyptian mummy desperate to free itself of bondages and its umbilical catheter.
She can still heal me, the memory of her presence is like balm on my psyche because her quiet gentleness is as vivid as the nightmare she saved me from and as I watch the post EU-referendum news I cannot help but wish that this other nightmare will end soon with a slow awakening and a host of Lithuanians nursing me back to reality and health.
Buxton, October 2016