Everyone knew Horace Halfpenny. He was a foul-mouthed, malodorous drunk who thought nothing of flinging his colostomy bag (and occasionally part of his innards) at the professionals who tried to help him. Horace was the proverbial bad penny. We simply couldn’t get rid of him. He was banned from nearly every hospital in London, but he still called. A crew took him to Harlow, but days later he was back. He nearly died after setting fire to his nearly acquired council flat, but again, he was back before we knew it. Managers, police, social workers all got on the case and tried to stop Horace calling but to no avail. He was here, there, everywhere, popping up all over London with the infernal refrain: “MY BOWELS ARE HANGING OUT!”

But now Horace will never be calling us again. Because Horace Halfpenny is dead.

It seems that what Horace didn’t tell us that as well as the issues with his bowels and his burns, Horace was also suffering from lung cancer. Last weekend, a crew picked him up and poor Horace didn’t even have the energy to wave his colostomy bag around or swear at the crew. He lay forlornly in the back of the ambulance, his face a shade of grey.

“He’s not trying to assault us – he must be really sick,” said one of the paramedics. “Better blue him in.”

They got to the hospital, but Horace died soon after. It was then that they discovered that Horace had cancer.

The news spread round the control room like wildfire.

“I thought he hadn’t called for a while,” I said. “I should have known something was wrong…”

“I’ll kind of miss him,” said our Area Controller. “Kind of.”

The world will be a quieter place without Horace. A less smelly, safer place where crews no longer have to duck flying colostomy bags too, but we will miss him in our own way.

Published Sep 08, 2009 - 9 Comments and counting

9 Comments on “RIP Horace Halfpenny”
  1. Corrvin Says:

    Rest well, Horace.

  2. helen-louise Says:

    “He’s not trying to assault us – he must be really sick”

    There's something rather sad about that. RIP Horace!

  3. XaDvAnT Says:

    Perhaps a tribute in the LAC toilets would be appropriate, however you'd need to take measures to prevent it from being flushed.

  4. Bouncy Says:

    So that's why we're down to REAP 2

  5. Flora Gardens Says:

    I won't miss him one little bit.

    He was a horrible piece of work, who had all the help in the world given to him, but still continued to get steaming drunk, assault crews, and throw his faeces at crews. I had the misfortune to deal with him on many occasions a few years ago, when his main stamping ground was the Fulham – and surrounding – area. He stank like an old cess pit in a heatwave.

    I have only one pleasurable memory of him. And – I'm pleased to say – the LAS weren't involved. On occasion, he would fall asleep in Brompton Cemetery in Fulham. One day, the police were called there by a member of the public who said a "body had been dug up". Not surprisingly, it was "HH" asleep by a mound of earth from a newly-dug grave. Apparently, he looked so awful that the informant actually thought he was – at the very least – a two-week old corpse.

  6. Suzi Brent Says:

    That is a hilarious story and one I can really believe! I never saw Mr Halfpenny in the flesh but I heard enough descriptions of him to imagine him vividly. I am not surprised that you (or any crew member who has been on the receiving end of his behaviour) has no sympathy for his demise either.

  7. Vic B-W Says:

    He will be replaced.

  8. Euphemia Says:

    It's sad that since you made that post about some of your "regulars," at least two of them (Enid Whiner and Horace) have died just as you predicted they would. And new ones will take their place … a bit like "The Lion King," maybe? Circle of life?

  9. Cahomes Says:

    "
    That is a hilarious story and one I can really believe! I never saw Mr Halfpenny in the flesh but I heard enough descriptions of him to imagine him vividly. I am not surprised that you (or any crew member who has been on the receiving end of his behaviour) has no sympathy for his demise either."

    You are correct, I agree

    Nee Naw
    Nee Naw was a blog about life in the London Ambulance Service control room. It was written by Suzi Brent from 2005 to 2010. The blog is no longer being updated, but the archives will remain here.
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