Talk talk talk talk talk talk talk. If there is one thing the Greeks like more than anything else – more than eating? Drinking? Smoking? Making love? – it’s talk, and Greeks do not to it quietly. Goodness only knows what there is to talk about but a conversation can go on for hours. Often by the volume of the voices and the gesticulation one is hard put to know whether a flaming row is in progress or merely a pleasant sociable chat. Greeks talk everywhere. They talk in bars and tavernas and kafenios, they talk in the street, they even stop their cars in the middle of the road to greet friends and have a quickie. They talk in and outside church and they particularly like talking on television, giving their thoughts on something in the news; so often you get a screen divided into five with the newscaster on his own to one side and four others on the other, each in his or her own little box (it’s usually a him) all trying to outdo each other in venting their opinion. Like Greek drivers who can’t bear to linger behind another vehicle and put their own and everyone else’s lives to the hazard, they interrupt, object, shout louder and it looks sometimes as if apoplexy is about to take place while the newscaster endeavours to keep the temperature down. In consequence of this trait in the Greek character a Greek hospital is not a place of peace and quiet but for great lengths of the day and night reverberates like a cockatoo’s cage or an animated cocktail or garden party, or gives the impression that it’s more like a picnic. The reason for this of course is the method of Greek hospital care which provides basic nursing but expects family and friends to provide the frills so the wards quite often have three times the number of visitors as there are patients. With chronic illness some stay all night, sleeping on chairs. Neither does the medical staff feel they need keep their voices down. Why should they? There is so much noise going on they do need to be heard. Add to this the television sets in each ward blaring away, probably not even being watched as the chatter continues, and you get an idea of what it’s like, particularly if those who have the TV on happen to be a little on the deaf side.
Heraklion University Hospital of a morning is like Grand Central station at rush hour. The hospital is enormous, employing just under 2000 and having beds I suppose for fifteen hundred patients, the logistics of running the place with its myriad clinics and departments must be horrendous and the expense! Just noticing the amount of product on the cleaning trolleys for instance I decided if ever I were to invest money in the stock exchange it would be in firms that supply hospitals. How could you lose? Everywhere there are cardboard cartons stacked high with medical, catering, cleaning and all the other equipment such a hospital needs and it is state of the art although the actual fabric of the building is beginning to deteriorate somewhat and fixing it would again cost a small fortune. In the almost endless corridors there must be simply hundreds of hard plastic chairs for all those having to wait around including in-patients in between treatments. The reason for the busyness during the week is because of the A & E, always busy, and most significantly the out-patients’ clinics. Saturdays it quietens a little, Sundays, downstairs and in reception, it’s like the Marie Celeste. More next time.