The receptionist of the cardiology department was morbidly obese - at least 35 stone (500lbs or 225kg), which seemed at odds with the posters advocating cardiovascular health. I wonder if she picked the job because it had an on-site crash team.
My mother was seen quite quickly and within an hour it was all over. Apparently her heart wasn't firing on all cylinders, but given that it's been beating non-stop since 1929, is it any surprise? I tried to sound shocked but, frankly, she's much healthier than most people of her age.
While we waited for a taxi, I went to get a cup of tea for my mother. The only place I could find was a Costa Coffee. The queue consisted of working-class pensioners who were completely baffled by the bewildering selection of flat whites, mochaccinos and cortados. "I just want a cuppa tea dear", one lady said plaintively, to a nonplussed Latvian barista.
Hospitals used to have small cafeterias serving weak tea and the sort of coffee that vaguely resembled washing-up water, but I suppose it's more lucrative to lease the franchise to a chain staffed by minimum-wage migrants.
People tend to say two things about the National Health Service. The first is that it is wonderful. The second is that it is in crisis. On my (admittedly anecdotal) experience of many visits to several different hospitals, I'd say that, for a free healthcare system, the NHS is surprisingly good, if not wonderful. And it isn't in crisis. At least, not yet.
The crisis will happen. When the welfare state was conceived, the average working man could be expected to retire at 65, tend his allotment for four to five years before doing the decent thing and expiring.
As the medication improves it will only get worse (or better, if you're an 80 year old who wants to live forever).
But by the time I am 80, I expect the problem will have solved itself, when civil order collapses and I am either beaten to death by an angry mob or eaten by my neighbours. Before I end my days, as I dig up a shrivelled, mutated turnip from the radioactive soil of my garden, I will look back longingly at the days when we thought that a crisis meant having to wait six months for a hip operation.