One of my friends mentioned the other day that there seem to be a lot more hospital acquired infections in USA hospitals these days. Over here in England MRSA and C.Diff have been prevalent for some years and it's getting worse by the minute. Now, most people will have these bugs in their systems anyway, the problem is when you fill people up with antibiotics. This kills the 'good' bacteria as well as the 'bad' ones. So if you come into contact with an infected person you have no resistance.

One hospital down south has had ninety patients die and there are twenty other hospitals with a worse infection rate than that one. Mostly the problems are exacerbated by overcrowded hospitals and poor hygiene on the wards.

Now, I know a lot of people are going to jump down my throat for this one but, having worked in a hospital for some years it's my opinion that a large percentage of nurses are the most bone idle people I've ever met. The ones that are good are very very good but there are less and less of them around all the time.

Twenty five years ago when I worked at a hospital we had Sister Mac on the burns ward where I spent a lot of my time. Mac was one of the old school, her ward was always spotless, the nurses were out on the ward all the time. Down the corridor on female surgical you couldn't find a nurse for love nor money, they'd spend most of the day having 'reports' (chatting about boyfriends or what was on TV the night before), 'meetings' (chatting about boyfriends or what was on TV the night before) or 'training sessions' (chatting about boyfriends or what was on TV the night before). It could take half an hour or more for one of them to tear themselves away to bring a patient over to my department for me to see them.

While I was still working at the hospital I had a pretty good accident at home one night, severed some nerves and suchlike in my left hand, got an artery too. You've never seen so much blood, it was splashed all up the wall. Who'd have thought it could squirt so far?

Luckily Bob The Bobby was in my house having a sly coffee with my fiance and I so he drove us up to the hospital in my car. You should have seen the inside of it when we got out. It looked like a cat had exploded in there, blood on the roof and pooled on the back seat.

One of the Consultants sewed me back up. Ironically I'd fitted some microsurgery kit into one of the theatres the day before and now I was the first one to get to use it. I have a film of the inside of my left hand in glorious colour. It's on two reels (hee hee).

Afterwards at about two in the morning they stuck me in a private room on male reconstructive. At first that wasn't too bad. My fiance brought in food every day (have you ever tasted hospital food? No wonder they're all sick in there), she'd bring my ciggys and every other day a bottle of brandy. I was teaching in the evenings at the local college at the time so some of my students called in too bringing a few crates of beer and some sweeties. I had a TV and telephone and a games machine to keep me amused.

The whole thing got old pretty fast though. I don't like TV too much, computer games can't hold my interest and I couldn't read and smoke at the same time. My left hand was stuck in the air hanging off a drip stand so I looked like some hospitalised Nazi with my arm in a permanent salute. Plus, they'd taken away all my clothes since they were covered in blood so all I had to wear was a hospital gown. When I went awandering I had to kick the dripstand along with my bare feet and hold the gown together at the back with my right hand. This of course made it impossible for me to carry my ciggys and brandy. I detest being shut in one room, the only time I could really wander around was at night when I'd go and chat to the nurses. Having seen bottoms before they were unfazed at seeing mine.

Out on the main ward was a bloke called Alan. He'd come off his motorbike and somebody had driven over his right hand so he had his drip stand, hospital gown and his Nazi salute going too. He'd stroll into my room and between us we could get the top off the brandy (usually I had to get a nurse to do it for me).

We were going nuts shut up in there. Between us we managed to get our shoes on and the laces tied (my right hand, his left) but there was nothing we could do about clothes. We sneaked off while the nurses were looking the other way and set off down the corridor. This was an old hospital that used to be a workhouse so we slipped out through a side door and wended our merry way behind all the little buildings towards the main gate.

Every now and then somebody would pass by and then we'd have to stop to hold the back of our gowns together. It took about twenty minutes to the gate with all the stopping and starting but when the guard in the Lodge was looking the other way we picked up our drip stands and ran for it.

We weren't about to do that again. It hurt like hell (we'd only got out of surgery two days before) and was really draughty in those gowns.

Across the road was The Green Dragon pub but on our side of the road there was a bus stop with a line of people. We couldn't cross the road with them all watching as we couldn't push the drip stands and hold our gowns together at the same time so, we stood at the back of the queue until a bus came and they all got on. We tried to look nonchalant and I think we pulled it off pretty well.

Crossing a four lane road pushing a drip stand wasn't the easiest thing in the world so we just ignored the gowns. The cars were going too fast for the drivers to stare.

We picked a nice quiet corner table and sat there with our respective arms in the air and enjoyed our new found freedom and a few pints.

Back on the ward pandemonium reigned when they noticed we were missing, it was Consultants ward rounds in less than an hour. Most doctors will lose a patient occasionally but not normally by having them vanish into thin air. When she couldn't find us on the ward the Sister starting ringing around to see if anybody had acquired a couple of new patients.

Eventually she rang Sister Mac. Now, Mac knew the history of all of her patients, their families and everything. She knew the same about most of the staff too.

"Who's missing?" asks Mac

"Bernie and Alan." from our Sister

"Green Dragon." says Mac and hangs up.

We'd managed to be free for over an hour before a nurse came over and caught us but at least she let us finish our drinks.

Now, you'd think it'd be easier for us to get back across the road, the nurse could push both the stands and Alan and I could hold our hospital gowns closed at the back. It doesn't really work that way when you're all looking in different directions to dodge the traffic and two of us had had a few drinks. We made it in the end, I just stopped looking at the cars and followed my drip stand. I think Alan did the same.

At least back in the hospital with a nurse with us we could use the corridors and not sneak around. This time Alan and I pushed our drip stands and the nurse walked in the middle holding our gowns closed. Unfortunately since she didn't want to touch our bottoms she was holding them somewhere near our shoulderblades so it wasn't very effective.

I thought I'd seen a flash behind us while we were walking and I was right. One of my staff had spotted us and taken a photograph. When I got back to work a few months later there was a twenty by sixteen colour print of me walking down the corridor with my bottom sticking out of the gown hanging behind the desk in my office. Nice ornate frame too.

I left it up but stuck a picture of my face on top of my shoulders so it looked like my head was on backwards.

It got a few funny looks from some people but strangely nobody ever asked about it.

It's a weird old world.