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.