Picture this. It is back in the dark days of the early nineties, its winter, its dark and its cold outside. The scene is a godforsaken mental health unit in the north midlands. A long corridor, carpeted and clean with the sort of industrial hygiene that only hospitals value is exceedingly dimly lit. By all rights it should be empty but it is crowded now by a tense group of men. All of them are nurses and all of them have been summoned to this place by the Fearsome Dragon who is the Sister of the ward. The brightest light comes from a side room through a door which is carefully being kept ajar by the age old expedient of a hospital towel being draped over the top. In the side room a voice is raised, harsh and tense, a man who is quite clearly being threatening. A quieter but no less forceful voice replies. The Dragon. Words cannot be made out, often, but each time the man speaks he gets a little louder. Each time he speaks the dozen or so men in the corridor tense. They all stand silently, some looking at their shoes, one or two leaning against the wall and failing to look relaxed. They all know that, should The Dragon summon them they must rush into the side room and restrain and then medicate the angry, frightened, floridly psychotic little man. They also know that if she has to do this, The Dragon will feel she has lost face and she will then make one of them look bad. Thats how she works and they all know it. They are all secretly, or not so secretly, hoping she succeeds in her mission of persuading the small, frightened but unfortunately militarily trained and highly dangerous little man to take his prescribed medication orally and that they can go back to their own wards and their own patients in peace. None relishes the thought of seeing a friend demeaned by the bitter old Dragon, even less of being demeaned themselves. The tension in the gloomy hallway ratchets up with the tempo and volume of the frightened and frightening little man's voice.
With a theatrical suddenness the double doors at the end of the corridor swoosh open and in walks a giant of a man. Six feet and seven inches tall, this man is an ex miner (a lot of the men in the corridor are ex miners, I am not.) He has muscles on his muscles and he has a bristling and wild moustache of which I am in awe. He is also, to my true and certain knowledge, one of the gentlest and most caring men I have ever met. He is not wearing shoes, for some reason.
He has been sent for tea and a sandwich with which to placate the scary little patient. Returning from his mission, he is carrying a plastic fake wood hospital tray on which is a steaming mug of miners tea (the spoon is dissolving) and a heap of butties on the deadest of white bread.
Holding the tray like the haughtiest of butlers the giant strides slowly down the hall past the waiting men. As he walks, and in perfect time with his steps, he sings in a beautiful baritone:
"We got sunlight on the sand,
We got moonlight on the sea.
We got mangoes and bananas
you can pick right off the tree!
We got volleyball and pingpong
and a lot of dandy games,
but what aint we got...?"
And as one man, at the top of our voices and in a truly horrendous variety of awful we each stamped forward on our right foot shook our fists and sang:
"...WE AINT GOT DAMES!"
Then we looked at each other in shocked and appalled horror as The Dragon burst forth from the side room incandescent with fury demanding to know what the meaning of this outrageous unprofessional behaviour was....
Behind her the little man laughed and picked up his pot of medicine and washed the pills down with the tea being given to him by the smiling giant.
I have rarely felt more proud to be a man than I did that night.