Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Intensive care

Notwithstanding what I say about hospital horrors below, notwithstanding the institutionalised neglect I talk about in Take Me Home, and notwithstanding the frequent systemic stupidity of the institutions themselves, it's quite remarkable to me what casual, everyday heroics happen within these grim prison-houses. Take the neo-natal unit, where babies receive intensive care. I'm in speechless awe of the people who work here: day in, day out, they are saving tiny lives, changing parents' lives. Doctors appear within seconds if there's a problem; everything is explained clearly to parents; care is almost one-to-one .... If only the whole N.H.S. were like this.

The people who work in these environments are the real heroes of our society. As a society, we celebrate overpaid adolescents who kick pigs' bladders around fields, wives of overpaid adolescents who kick pigs' bladders around fields, stick insects who strut up and down catwalks wearing clothes (don't we all wear clothes?), stick insects who used to strut up and down catwalks wearing clothes but now spend all their time taking coke, has-been and never-been pop singers who didn't write their own songs in the first place ... and so on and so forth.

All of these people get paid up to one hundred times what the casual heroes of baby intensive care earn. As I read somewhere once, what kind of society is it where so-called actors who spend their lives playing doctors and nurses and midwives (on Casualty, E.R., Holby City, etc.) are paid over ten times more than real doctors, nurses, midwives? It's a society which values pretence over reality, fakeness over genuineness, illusion over truth, and more than anything pretend heroism over real heroism - the real, casual heroism of the everyday, of people who go into work in the morning (or night) knowing that two babies' lives depend on what they do that day.

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