A lot of waiting goes on at a hospital and consequently a lot of thinking, where the imagination takes over. My first son was born in St Thomas’ Hospital in 1999. He was put into the neo-natal unit for the first week of his life and my wife was given a room facing the Houses of Parliament as we waited for his recovery (he was fine). Anyhow, at night I would look across at Parliament’s golden facade and wonder what the MPs were up to at that particular time; yes, sessions would still be going on, and possibly committee meetings, but I also imagined there to be lots of drinking and other intra-party ‘extra-curricular activities’, all in the name of oiling the cogs of democracy. I was almost tempted to go down to A&E to see if I could spot an errant MP.
I am reminded of this by Roz Goddard’s delightful poem Hammersmith Hospital 1968. The hospital is situated in an area of scrub land in West London. What’s interesting about it, is it sits right next to one of the most well-known (notorious?) prisons in the UK, Wormwood Scrubs. And like myself, our poet is waiting, and whilst waiting is looking out the window at the prisoners during recreation time. ‘I can see men in the exercise/yard larking about.’ But she has a very active imagination, ‘I imagine/them issuing threats and swearing and a fight/breaking out.’ (more…)