Since the deaths of Enid Whiner and Horace Halfpenny, the East Central desk has been somewhat short of regulars. We only really have two, a crazy pensioner who consistently tells us she’s had a fall and then shouts at the ambulance crew when they have the temerity to turn up at her flat, and a nasty psychopathic drug user who calls from phone boxes telling us about his nuclear weapons and occasionally dribbles on Tom Reynolds’ uniform. Today, however, saw the return of one very regular regular, one I had never hoped to hear from again.

Back in my call taking days, the ambulance service was absolutely terrorised by one very persistent individual, who would make call after call after call, mostly to the same fictitious address in Bethnal Green, and occasionally (just for a change) to Gatwick Airport. The diagnosis was always a variation on one of three themes: offering or requesting a banana; telling us about his itchy penis; requesting help because someone had collapsed due to dizziness (often on the airport runway). It is not an exaggeration to say this man made thousands of calls or that every single call taker had been driven to distraction by him. However, in August last year, the police finally caught up with him, and to everyone’s relief, the calls stopped. It emerged that he was a disabled teenager, and for this reason the police went easy on him, and I heard Social Services had tried to show him the error of his ways and arranged a visit to Ambulance Control to show him what we do. (Personally, I am not sure this last bit was a good idea. There are a few people in Control who would have had difficulty maintaining a polite demeanour if they had known who he was).

Anyway, today – a busy Friday afternoon – I was sitting in front of a screenful of calls of varying seriousness and wondering how I was going to cover the lot of them with two cars, a green truck and a push bike, when a familiar address in Bethnal Green popped up.

“Good god no!” I exclaimed. “It can’t be… it is… NO!”

“What??” said G from the radio, thinking something important had happened.

“It’s…. HIM! BANANA MAN!” I howled.

“NOOOOOOOO” said G, and everyone else within earshot. They were all traumatised by Banana Incidents from the call taking days, too.

I’ll tell you one thing, though – now I’m an allocator on the East Central Desk, there is NO WAY I am going to allow Banana Man to resume his reign of terror. I am NOT having him jeopardising the safety of my patients and I am not having my ambulance crews running around on wild goose chases after his dizzy itchy runway banana! I have started a log of all of his hoax calls (there were eight this afternoon) and I will be passing it on to Management, the police, the local greengrocer and air traffic control. Banana Man will be stopped! No bananas on my manor!

Published Oct 16, 2009 - 9 Comments and counting

9 Comments on “The Return of Banana Man”
  1. Supermouse Says:

    Great, now I have bananaphone going through my head (linked youtube video is work/childsafe but earwormy).

  2. RubbishParent Says:

    Eric Wimp, an ordinary schoolboy, living at 29 Acacia Road….

  3. Arwen Says:

    What baffles me that if this guy is (presumably) disabled enough to do what he does, how come he's not under constant supervision? Does he not have carers? With the frequency of the calls it's almost impossible for it to go unnoticed, right? And I believe that last time he kept getting new phones and such – how is he getting those?

    It's weird to me that if he is deemed to not be responsible for his own actions, how it can be that nobody else (carer or suchlike) IS responsible for them.

  4. Steve Irwin Says:

    Me and the Boyz will go round there and sort him out for you!!

  5. SJA_ETA Says:

    Arwen, it really depends on what type of disability he has. If it is a psychological disorder then, yes he would be under constant supervision, then again, if the family don't want that for him… He can then be left to his own devices… If he is from Bethnal Green (as it says in the post), then if the volume of his calls go back up to a level deemed innapropriate for the LAS to deal with, he could then be referred to a psychological consult with the local PCT. It just depends on the severity of his condition.

    I hope this helps.

  6. Superted Says:

    I work for a national helpline & we also get calls from him!

  7. SJA_ETA Says:

    He must be stopped!!!!

  8. trudgewater Says:

    trudgewater… edgy…

  9. Razzle Bathbone Says:

    You should use voiceprint technology, call tracing technology, and the phone providers should all be under court order to shut down his disposable cellphones at the first usage. The bars of a prison cell make a great Faraday cage; maybe *his* room should be surrounded by steel bars.

    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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