They make ‘em tough in Hull!

Opher and Liz have been our good friends for years, and regulars at Loudhailer Acoustic. It was just over a year ago that Opher asked how to set up a blog. He has embraced it wholeheartedly and published over a thousand posts (to add to his 43 books) in his first year. Here’s Opher’s story about coming to Hull.

They make ‘em tough in Hull!

opher-liz-1973We were living in a tiny bedsit in London with a baby. We were left a house in Hull when my wife’s grandmother died and set about moving up north. Before we could get it sorted Hull City Council placed a demolition order on our house and offered £25 compensation. We were flummoxed. Undeterred, now that I had secured a place at Hull University to do a teaching course, we journey by thumb up from London and bought a house for £800. Job done. We’d been successfully pushed through the Watford Gap.

The weeks passed. My wife moved up to our new home in Fleet Street off Stepney Lane which joined Beverley Road next to the Beverley Road baths and swimming pool, with our toddler. I was due to follow in a few weeks. I just had to finish my work and research contract.

There were no phones back then. These were the days of antiquation not far removed from Wells Fargo. I had one week to complete and then I would join the family and start a new life – except I wasn’t well. I was peeing dark brown liquid and felt terrible. It was worse than flu – worse than man-flu. I went to the doctor. I was called in. The doctor looked up. ‘Stop there!’ he ordered brusquely. I halted. He never took his eyes off me and yet somehow managed to write a note. He placed it on the edge of his desk and retreated to the corner of the room. I watched with some trepidation. It looked serious. ‘Take this note and go straight to hospital,’ he ordered. ‘You have hepatitis. Do not go near anyone. You are highly contagious.’ Feeling a wave of anxiety I watched forward as the doctor cringed in the corner of the surgery, took the note off the desk and backed away.

1968I made my way out and straight to the nearby Royal Free Hospital. I was feeling so ill I could hardly think. At the hospital I handed the note into reception and began to tell her the story of my highly infectious disease. She wasn’t interested. ‘Go and sit over there,’ she informed me, pointing to the full waiting room. Once again I tried to tell her about my highly infectious condition. ‘If you do not sit over there you will not be seen,’ she informed me sternly. I was too ill to object and timidly did as instructed. Eventually the doctor saw me. ‘What on earth were you doing sitting in the waiting room?’ He asked aghast. ‘You could have infected half of London!’ I mumbled about the receptionist. ‘We will have to get you into solitary confinement straight away,’ the doctor informed me. ‘You are highly infectious and extremely ill. I mumbled something about my wife and child being in Hull and wouldn’t it be possible to get admitted up there. ‘If you dismiss yourself you will have to fill in this disclaimer,’ he informed me sniffily. ‘I cannot take responsibility for what happens to you.’ I filled in the form.

In a haze I somehow negotiated trains and buses, attempting to keep myself away from all contact and stepped off the final bus at the baths on Beverley Road. That’s where the plan fell apart. In my addled state I could not remember where to go. I was bewildered. I found myself standing outside the Bull, which, owing to the fact that it was still afternoon, did not have inebriated individuals collapsed on the pavement outside …… yet. I don’t think I’d have had the energy to step over them. I spied a young boy and asked him the directions to Fleet Street. He looked at me with suspicion as if I was an idiot. ‘See that lad having a lot off to the bairn over there,’ he said with a rich Hull twang. ‘Yer go down der tenny t’end ‘n turn right.’ I stood and stared, completely uncomprehending. I might as well have been on Mars. He was talking a different language. What was all this about lads, bairns and tennis? I nodded my thanks and headed off in the general direction.

Liz and Dylan
Liz and Dylan by Opher

My how my wife was amazed to find me knocking on the door a week early, especially when I told her not to come within fifteen feet as I was dying of a highly infectious and lethal disease. She brought me a cup of tea and we set off to Hull General. I was turned away. Seemingly they do not have a casualty department. I was directed to Hull Royal Infirmary. It sounded right – I was completely infirm. Besides, if it was good enough for royalty……. I don’t remember how I got there it was a blur. Eventually they explained I had to go home, they could not see me because I did not have a GP. I had to register first. Somehow I got ‘home’ and the next morning registered.

A locum came out to see me. He examined me with stethoscope, thermometer and hand, on the floor of the spare bedroom and pronounced that I did indeed have hepatitis. He gave me a prescription for paracetamol and told me to go to bed and take two every eight hours and lots of fluids. I was passed caring. ‘What about the wife and child?’ I mumbled. ‘Use separate towels,’ he instructed as he packed up to leave, taking my deadly virus with him to the next patient.

In London I was a terminal patient in need of intensive care in an isolation ward; in Hull I was in need of a couple of days in bed and a few paracetamol.

They make ‘em tough in Hull.

© Opher Goodwin

So who is Opher? Find out more on his website Opher’s World.

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