Mrs H. was in hospital the other week for spinal surgery; always a risky procedure. She’s out now and the surgeons have neatly stapled the wound. She asked me yesterday what the scar – which is quite lengthy – looked like. I stared at the vertical column of gleaming metal strips (they’re being removed tomorrow) and told her that she looked not un-akin to one of the Borg. She did not try to assimilate me (ooh-er, missus!) but I reckon it was a close thing.
But there I go digressing again in the first paragraph, as I always do, before apologising in the second. Anyway, during my amble around one hospital – a truly impressive architectural fusion of Victorian splendour and 21st century futurism – I occasioned upon a nurse from whom I solicited directions. “Ooh, I know you!” she said saucily. “You’re that bloke off the telly and the radio, arncha?”
I told her that indeedy-doody I was, unless she was referring to Jonathan Ross or Jeremy Paxman, in which case indeedy-doody I wasn’t.
“But you are that bloke who does ghosts, aren’t you?”
This was not an easy question to answer. Did she mean in the literal sense? Was she suggesting that I “did ghosts” in the sense that a lot of people want to “do” their favourite film star, or did she mean that I “did” them in the way that the Mafia did? Honestly I’ve never had physical congress with a ghost or, indeed, ever harmed one.
But she meant it metaphorically, of course. And so, being the kind-hearted chap I am, I told her that I did “do” ghosts. But in a nice way. One thing led to another, and she informed me that she had once seen a strange creature near the infirmary. For some reason, cryptids (or things that may be cryptids) turn up in the oddest places in Geordieland.
It had been a cat. Or at least, a cat of sorts. The main difference between this and a domestic moggie was the size. This cat was bigger, tan-coloured and possessed a longer, thicker tail. It looked, she said, “like one of those mountain lions you see on TV.”
And when, pray, had she seen this, I enquired? “A couple of months ago”, she guessed, which placed the sighting somewhere in mid-October.
Had anyone else seen it?
“No; it was very early in the morning.”
Had it looked at the nurse or displayed any awareness of her presence?
“No; it just walked right past me.”
“About eight yards or so.”
And you’re sure it wasn’t just a large domestic cat?
“Oh, no. It was too big.”
And why didn’t you report it?
“People would have laughed.”
Fair enough, I thought: we Geordies can be a cynical lot at times and I dare say some of her colleagues would probably have extracted the etcetera, etcetera from her if you get my drift.
And you know what I’m going to do now, don’t you?
Don’t run off.
I’ll only find you, so you may as well get it over with.
Okay, then. Here we go.
There was this unidentified wildcat seen near a hospital. It startled one of the nurses.
“What’s a wild cat like you doing here?” said the nurse to the wild cat.
“I’m here for a CAT scan,” it replied.
There; that wasn’t too bad now, was it?
All the best for 2012, pip-pip!