Lunch is Served

A trail of gravy from the front door to the monstrous meal-warming machine indicated clearly enough that lunch had recently been delivered, so after twenty minutes or so of re-heating it, we began our ‘food hygiene’ preparations. Firstly, we donned our highly important blue plastic disposable aprons, which covered about two square feet of clothing and left the rest to fate. Next, I brandished about the temperature probe to show good form, testing all the hot foods to ensure they were 75 degrees centigrade or above, before documenting the results one by one in the appropriate food hygiene file. Officially, we were ready to go, but because the food was actually scalding hot and some of the patients would have wolfed it straight down and burnt themselves, we had to add cold milk to the soup and wait for the rest of the food to cool down again. During these temperature fluctuations the food bacteria were probably increasing at bubonic plague rates, but we relied on everyone’s cast iron stomachs to see us through, and remained smugly professional that the policy had been ‘correctly’ followed. The whole palaver took some considerable time, of course, and today I observed that all the patients were turned in our direction as though they were watching Tiger Woods winning Wimbledon. There was a growing primordial tension in the room, and small hairs began to pilo-erect on staff necks.

Thank God we didn’t have this performance at home, I thought. But what bureaucrat would run their own lives on the same basis as their organisational victims?


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