Thursday, 23 October 2014

Fair enough.

Me interviewing a nurse. Honest, he is a nurse.

I climb into a taxi in Cambridge, having just interviewed some nurses for the film I'm making, on my way back to the station, and the person who commissioned the film is talking to me. Just her voice. No actual body. 

She says, it's all about transparency… measurably… what are we doing well? How do we know? 

Yep, I think, I have that recorded, at least one of my nurses said that, and much more besides. Phew. Thanks.

She's talking on BBC Five Live, the taxi driver is listening to it. But I very nearly met her in the flesh last week, we had a meeting in central London but then she had to go and see The Secretary of State instead at the last minute, about that strike, you may have read about it, I ended up meeting her second in command. Fair enough.

People ring in to the radio programme to talk about nursing. I want to join in. I want to say nurses are amazing. I want to say we should all re-train to be nurses because it's the best job in the world. 

This might be because I've just interviewed 12 of them, and a midwife, in the last week or so, for the narrative part of the film, all over the country, and they have been an inspiring, enthusiastic, smiling, upbeat bunch. There has been a lot of laughter along the way, and there have been tears. Both mine and theirs. 

And this is because in almost every case there's been a moment of interviewing gold: an anecdote that bubbled up from the depths that I wasn't expecting, that the nurse herself (or himself) didn't anticipate telling me. 

In these moments the room becomes hushed and I lean in, keeping that all-important eye-contact, nodding like fury so the story keeps flowing, without my own voice chipping in and spoiling it all...

A Polish health care worker who was homeless when he came to Britain and slept on a park bench. He told me how he felt when his baby was born, in the same hospital where he was compassionately tending to his patients several floors below, and when I asked, so what's the best thing about your job, then? a job he clearly loves, he said it is his patients and being indoors in the warm, with a roof over his head. That's also fair enough.

There was a nurse whose own mother died many years ago, of cancer, who told me her mother's last words to her were to be a good nurse, to care for people, to never lose her temper, and so to this day she never has. She lets off steam by quietly creeping away in times of stress and shouting at a wall.

And the nurse from Wolverhampton, with the teary eyes and the tissues, who welled up telling me about her elderly patients, explaining that she wanted to work in elderly care because she nursed her own grandmother when she was a child. 

Dynamite stuff. I just hope I can squeeze all the best heartfelt bits into the film without compromising the message.

And the interview days haven't passed without incident either. One lovely nurse had a car accident on her way to meet me in Leeds. She was shaken up, understandably, she needed to calm her nerves and drink a cup of tea, and then she did the interview nevertheless, like a trouper.

And the handsome male nurse who works in ICU (Intensive Care Unit to you and me). Tall, gorgeous arms like massive hams, dark hair, twinkly eyes, served as a medic in Afghanistan... He was late because his wallet was stolen out of his back pocket on the bus and he had to
 give chase.

"Gosh, how awful!" I said, "So did you manage to get it back?"

"Oh yeah," came the quiet reply.

That one really is fair enough, and yet another reason to love nurses.

Love E x


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