Monday, 24 July 2017

O.D.O.

In my latest Saint Theo's Day video I refer to my portering career's transition from the delivery suite to the operating theatres, see: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/st-theos-day-2017.html. The story of how I left the theatres and returned to general service is a long and intricate one, as well as being very educational for me. To explain how it happened it is necessary to know a bit about the organisational structure of the John Radcliffe Hospital's Portering Department at the time. Unusually we had a single large department consisting of a general pool or "lodge" and specialized sections from the Portering Department were deployed to the various other departments, X ray, theatres, emergency etc. A porter can be made to serve anywhere within the remit of the portering job description. In most other hospitals, departments tend to employ their own porters and the general pool is completely independent. All this changed in 2005 when the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust entered into a contract with Carillion PLC to build the new six hundred million pound West Wing. (This deal was a plot designed to sabotage the NHS, see: http://hpanwo-hpwa.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-nhs-to-be-privatized.html) The contract involved the amalgamation of the portering services with domestics and catering to create a new department: Facilities. At the same time the refuse section of the old Portering Department, the hospital's dustmen, was split off and made into a new sub department called "the waste team" or "environmental porters". At the time I had been serving in Theatres since 1999. My job involved transporting patients to and from surgery, the movement of patients within the theatres and basic logistics relating to equipment, drugs, specimens, rubbish and anything else. The Theatres Department administration then proposed to employ their porters independently. Its proposal was approved and it was granted a budget. Recruitment was simplicity itself; the old departmental staff who had been deployed in Theatres at the time of transition were simply acquired automatically under the Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment regulations. I agreed and signed the new contract. This was a big mistake. Had I declined I would have simply been redeployed within the rest of the new hospital portering Facilities services. On the surface it seemed like a good deal. Becoming a theatre porter employed directly by the Theatres Department meant a pay-rise of an extra one thousand two hundred pounds per year; and we would be answerable only to the Theatres management and no longer have to deal with the remote controllers in the Facilities offices. However, there was a catch, we would no longer be called porters; our new job title was "ODO- Operating Department Orderly".
I had no idea how much this would affect me until the first time I heard a voice on the intercom saying: "Are there any ODO's there please?" Up until then it had always been: "Are there any porters there please?" I remember it perfectly to this day. My jaw dropped. I felt like Winston Smith in 1984 when he first heard somebody announce that Oceania was at war with Eastasia. I asked the head theatre porter (formerly the section senior porter) if I could carry on calling myself a theatre porter. He said no; absolutely not. On a nuts and bolts level he was right; I had signed the contract, something I now bitterly regretted. However I got a sticky label and wrote the word porter on it and stuck it over my name badge where it said "Ben Emlyn-Jones- ODO." A few days later I was called into the office of the Theatres manager, a thin old woman called Julie. Sitting beside her was the head of Human Resources (another Orwellian word). I assumed this was just an informal discussion and at no point was I cautioned and asked if I wanted trade union representation. Julie explained to me that what I was doing was defacing hospital property and breaching security policy. She asked me to remove the sticker and I refused. The HR manager then asked me why I didn't like being called an ODO. I said that I intensely dislike this new job title. It's a shallow, gimmicky, artificial, politically correct, piece of Orwellian Newspeak, It's nothing more than stupid corporate jargon. It's not a word at all, just a piddling little soulless, plastic euphemism. I think it sounds mindless and highly unprofessional. "ODO" is also sometimes pronounced "Oh-doe" and that sounds rather like "odour"... or perhaps, very aptly, "order"; as in the new world one. "Porter" is actually a very ancient and noble word; it goes back to the Latin portare which means "to carry". I became very emotional as I spoke. "I've shed sweat, blood and tears for over seventeen years for that little word: porter!" I told him. "I will never give it up!" He replied: "The theatre porters at the RI (Radcliffe Infirmary) are called ODO's; they've always been called ODO's and none of them seem to mind." Really? The RI is Oxford's oldest hospital; it was opened over two hundred and eighty years ago. Were the theatre porters honestly called ODO's from day one? They asked me once again to remove the sticker and I refused again. Then they allowed me to return to work. However a couple of days later I received a letter at my home address warning me that the next time I turned up for duty, if I did not have an intact name badge and was willing to answer to the job title of "ODO" then I would be suspended and face full disciplinary action. I called my shop steward, a man called Eamon. He was furious that I'd even received the letter and considered it highly wrongful for them to have sent it to me. He chastised me that I shouldn't have cooperated with the panel: "There's no such thing as an 'informal discussion' in this place!" he said. "You should have walked out and only agreed to come back with me at your side!" He told me I had no choice but to remove the sticker, for now. However he immediately made an appointment for us to get together and construct an official grievance. He did this against the advice of most of the other conveners in the union; for this I am eternally grateful to him. The local UNISON branch was quite alarmed by the stand I'd made; some of them questioned my mental health. For them it was a total non-issue. "Who cares what you're called?" one of them said. "You've just bagged yourself an extra twelve hundred a year. What the hell is wrong with you!?" It's hard to explain to somebody who is apathetic towards their occupation and just sees it as forty hours a week out from their lives in order to generate an income. The saddest part of the whole situation was the response from my fellow porters. The first day of work after the news broke I walked into the lodge and MEP&DBP's were definitely withdrawn and subdued in the way they greeted me. Their usual warmth and camaraderie was absent and the embarrassed silence continued all day. With the exception of Eamon, not one of those men stood by me. That's eighteen porters, the entire section, that rejected me. On the contrary they shunned me. I heard how behind my back they were calling me a "fucking idiot!" and other epithets. The deputy senior was the worst. One of his jobs was to keep a record of annual leave. This he did by writing the porters' names in a big diary. At one point I booked two bank holiday lieu days with him over the phone; and on the first day I went on leave he phoned me up and asked why I wasn't at work. I told him that I had booked the lieu days with him a week earlier and he replied: "No you didn't." He deliberately hadn't written my name down in the book. What could I do? I had made the booking over the phone. This was something we all did and considered it perfectly valid because we trusted each other. The deputy senior had tricked me by pretending to book my leave. I was marked down as absent. There was no doubt my time in Theatres was limited. I sent the following letter to the Theatres manager:
                                                                                                 Ben Emlyn-Jones
                                                                                                         Porter
3/1/06                                                                            Operating Theatres JRII
                                                                                  John Radcliffe Hospital

Dear Julie,

Hope you had a good Christmas and New Year.

Re: Your letter dated 30/12/05 and the question: “Have you removed the sticky label from your name badge?”

Yes, I have. I think I’ve made my point, and there is no valour in cutting off my nose to spite my face. Besides, it’s only fair that I return my badge to Security in the same state that it was issued to me.

I will be leaving the Theatres Department soon. I wish to continue my portering career in another department, or another hospital, where I am free to express my porterhood. If this is not possible then I will end my portering career in the same way I’ve always tried to live it: with dignity.

If I am given a job in another department then I will need to arrange a transfer and give appropriate notice. This I would like to discuss with you, Chris and my UNISON representative at the appropriate time.

With the exception of the last two months, I will look back at my seven years in your department very fondly.

Porters Forever!

Ben Emlyn-Jones

There is no valour in being a false martyr. As I said in the letter, I had made my point. I even used the word porter in my address; I also did in my following letter of resignation. I feared that Julie might actually be so petty as to send it back to me and order me to change it to "Operating Department Orderly" before accepting it, but luckily, to her credit, she wasn't. As good providence would have it, I was swiftly accepted back into the new Facilities department where I served for the next seven years until my final discharge, see background links below. They were delighted to have me actually. Why did Theatres management go to town so zealously on this issue? Not to mention the spiteful ostracization by my immediate peers. Or to put it another way, is the dreaded P-word really so awful that it had to be eliminated as such a high priority? A portering friend of mine asked me afterwards: "Why did you make such a fuss about a job title, Ben?" My reply was: "But they made just as much fuss as I did. Have you asked them that question?" No false modesty here, I was their most valuable member of portering staff; the most dedicated, the most expert and the most experienced. Yet they threw me away without any hesitation for the sake of a three-letter acronym. What really annoyed and baffled me is that some of the other theatre porters/ODO's were very bad at their jobs and they were left in peace. One man in particular springs to mind. He was late for work almost every day and used to sneak off early whenever he could. He was off sick at least one day a week. When he was present he spent as much time as he could get away with skiving. He could usually be found smoking at the entrance to the service tunnels with the other time-wasters, but nobody caught him out. He was never sacked and was rarely even reprimanded. He enjoyed eight cushy years in portering before leaving voluntarily to become a healthcare assistant in some nursing home. They got rid of me, but were quite content to keep him! I once asked my friend, who is still a theatre porter in the West Wing, how the staff feel about being called ODO's and apparently they say things like: "We've always been called ODO's, haven't we?" What's really disturbing is that even porters who were serving before 2005 say this... Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. The words we use for things are vitally important because language is such a precious and central part of the human experience; it is the framework of cognition. Take away the human power of speech and you remove our power of thought; we will then become no more intelligent than a limpet. This is why human language is under attack. The architects of the New World Order want to degrade it and transform it into a degenerate instruction code; as George Orwell warned us: "Newspeak was designed to eliminate all meaning from language, leaving only blandness." Before he died in 1950 Orwell left us a chilling warning: "Allowing for the book, after all, being a parody, something like 1984 could actually happen. This is the direction the world is going in at the present time... If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever. The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: don't let it happen. It depends on you." I know, George. And I won't. I promise you, I won't.
And: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/was-orwell-mediocre.html.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Blocks and Dig's

Slaxxxer has uploaded a video today about an argument he had and how it has led him to introspection about expressing feelings, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d99Eeg7D7y8. It's uncanny because I feel in a very similar situation. All today I have had the strange feeling that everybody is attacking me at once and it's put me in a strange mood. As I say to the skeptics: "I may be a paranoid conspiracy theorist, but being paranoid doesn't mean everybody isn't out to get me!" There are two cases in particular I want to detail. I was contacted a few days ago on Facebook (so begins a million argument stories!) by a total stranger who claimed she was engaged to be married to the son of a lady I know, somebody who I really like and respect. I was a bit alarmed because I didn't recognize this person but I checked with my friend and she confirmed that this was indeed her daughter-in-law-to-be. My friend is celebrating her fortieth wedding anniversary this Sunday. Then the daughter-in-law-to-be sent me a message confiding in me that she had a surprise present planned for my friend and asked me to help. Unfortunately I misunderstood and inadvertently ended up revealing the secret to my friend. I apologized to the daughter-in-law-to-be, but she was absolutely furious. She said: "Thanks a lot for ruining that surprise!... If you misunderstood you could have asked!... What a shame, you have ruined what was a lovely idea and took me a lot of time and effort... You really did mess that up! You just need to engage your brain... So gutted!" Beyond my apology there was not a lot I could say. I had indeed done that. But then this tirade continued. When I merely posted a comment saying: "Congratulations! Have a great day!" on a formal and public notice issued by my friend and her husband, the daughter-in-law-to-be posted an angry emoji below it. I deleted the comment. The daughter-in-law-to-be is behaving as if I have deliberately sabotaged my friend's celebration out of malicious intent. No, I would never do that. It was an honest mistake and I'm sorry. At the very same time I had a comment on one of my posts from an intermittent friend whom I last saw in 2011. He and I came across each other a few times before at David Icke forum meet-ups. He is the kind of person who is always very courteous in real life, but online he can behave like he did this time. His comment was sarcastic, bitchy and subtly abusive. This is not the first time he's done this kind of thing. A few years ago I was politely debating with somebody and he waded in with his size 12's with the snide comment: "Clutching at straws, Ben." These two incidents happened within about an hour of each other. I snapped. Maybe it's because of the Larry Warren business (See: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/the-larry-warren-controversy-part-18.html), but my tolerance levels have taken a battering recently. My professional decorum has its limits. The good news is that hospital portering has taught me a hard but very worthwhile lesson on how to disarm antagonists like this: The Dignity Statement. See the background links below for more details. I explain how to use it, when to use it and, when used correctly, how effective it is at retaliating against enemies in an ethical manner. I've found it useful in my post-portering life on several occasions, although not as often as when I was in portering. This is one of these occasions. So I have done something that goes against the grain a bit, but I know in the long run it will make me feel a lot better. The first thing I did was to send them the lyrics to a porters' song.

Porters' Dignity
Porters' Dignity
Porters' Dignity
And Porters' Dignity
Porters' Dignity
Oh, Porters' Dignity
Porters' Dignity
And Porters' Dignity

Porters' Pride
Porters' Pride
Porters' Pride
And Porters' Pride
Porters' Pride
Oh, Porters' Pride
Porters' Pride
And Porters' Pride

You can hear me singing that song at the end of this HPANWO Show: http://hpanwo-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/programme-114-podcast-marcus-allen-part.html. After that I blocked them before they had the chance to reply. Childish you might think? Just how mature are we meant to be and for how long? Who benefits when we turn the other cheek again and again and again to aggressive and exploitative emotional vampires and hashtag pugilists who are all smiles when you meet them in person and then snipe and gripe at you from behind their keyboards and monitors?... They do! So I'm taking some time off from being Mr cool-calm-and-collected ex-porter. I've gone on to do the same to two other people. One is the person who unfriended me for daring to disagree with him over Dr Judy Wood, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-911-civil-war.html. The other is the co-host of a skeptic radio show I was once on. He unfriended me when he joined the Anti-Darren Perks Cult, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/miragemengate.html. This was when I was striving on the futile effort to engage these people in rational debate. While I was presenting my rational case he posted: "Ben, stop prevaricating." I know, the last two cases are things that happened years ago and I'm still angry about it. Isn't that petty of me? Maybe Slaxxxer is right and the reason I'm still angry after so much time has passed is because I did not react correctly at the time. I've found that I can't just brush these feelings off; they fester. Perhaps this way I can find peace. I myself feel uncertain about what I've done. Many people will say that it's out of character for me. Maybe, but if my character includes biting my tongue and suffering in silence, then perhaps it is a flaw not a quality.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Heatwave Cross-dressing Porters

During hot weather the large buildings can absorb a lot of heat which then lingers in the interior. My own hospital was like this and I used to dread hot weather, especially on late shifts which covered the afternoon and evening. The only way to lower the temperature inside the hospital is through air conditioning which is essentially refrigerating the air as it comes in through the air vents. My own hospital trust directorship refused to fund the installation of air conditioning for the entire hospital; it is only present in a few areas... including the directors' offices of course. In A and E there was air conditioning but it always malfunctioned and made the space too cold. To be fair, in Britain it would only really be needed for at most a couple of weeks a year; yet those weeks are hellish for the staff and patients. A porter at Watford General Hospital has been suspended for breaking uniform regulations by rolling up his trouser legs while on duty. This was soon after a request for porters to wear knee-length shorts was declined. MEP&DBP Michael Wood said: "Our health and safety is paramount in the hospital. When you're struggling to work when you're sweating, you become irritable and argumentative" I've also seen people collapse from heat exhaustion, not just porters but many nurses and a few doctors. The porters at the Watford General have been sold off to Medirest, a public service contractor whose reputation is no better than Carillion, Mediclean or any of the others floating around. Their union, the GMB, has come up with a strange solution; they've advised their porters to wear dresses. There is a female porters' uniform. At my hospital it began as a green dress and later changed to one similar to the men's only with ladypants. Hospital portering is still a male-dominated job. All but about five percent, at the most, of the porters at my hospital were men; usually it was lower than that. Because it is a low-paid, dirty and unglamourous profession feminists don't object and there have never been policies to "diversify" or "enrich" us. Trade unions though have become very soft left over the years and I can't help wondering if their scheme to make porters wear dresses is related to cultural Marxism. Portering culture is very "blokey" as a result of its mostly male workforce so perhaps it has been targeted for "reconstruction". I hope MEP&DBP Mr Wood will be alright. The union are trying to get his suspension lifted and I wish them luck. Now the heatwave is over they will probably just drop the matter. I personally would never wear a dress. Short trousers might be the solution, although there could be an infection control issue with them. I would rather continue to campaign to have means found to cool the inside of the hospital. Patients suffer as well in hot weather regardless of what the porters have on. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-40379293

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Happy St Theo’s Day 2017

On behalf of every serving hospital porter, every former hospital porter, and everybody else who loves, appreciates and supports us, with all the Pride and Dignity of my Extremely Proud and Dignified Brother and Sister Porters, I'd like to wish all my friends and readers, a very happy St Theo's Day. Here is my HPANWO TV video for St Theo's this year: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/st-theos-day-2017.html.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

St Theo's Day 2017 Fliers

The fliers for this year's St Theo's Day are finished. Pretty soon I shall print and distribute them. This year, as with last year, I have produced two different fliers, one for the Oxfordshire hospitals on my doorstep; and another to be distributed to other institutions around the country. I will send the second national flier by post, addressed to the porters in those institutions.

Monday, 6 February 2017

NHS- "Humanitarian Crisis"

There was a debate on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show this morning about the state of the National Health Service. It has recently emerged in the news that forty percent of hospitals have submitted alert reports to the Department of Health concerning a breakdown in fundamental function across the board. Patients in A and E have are being treated on trolleys in corridors, up to one in fourteen people in England and Wales are on the waiting list for some kind of surgical treatment. In some cases the delay is life threatening if the patient needs urgent cardiac operation or a cancer biopsy. The studio audience consisted of NHS service personnel, patients, politicians and experts; see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08d8gwv/victoria-derbyshire-06022017. This outcome is as much to be as expected as if you throw a stone into the air it will fall back to the ground. It the simplest and most obvious cause and effect prediction I can imagine. I've seen the system degenerate year by year from the inside. The NHS has been starved of funds and grossly mismanaged. As I've said before in the background links below, there's a limit on how incompetent somebody can be by accident. What has been done to the NHS is deliberate sabotage on an unbelievable scale. The new leader of UKIP, Paul Nuttall, says the NHS needs more privatization. I don't agree. I'm not a socialist and I don't favour public over private institutions for ideological reasons. It's a simple practical reality. However, and apologies for my black pill pessimism here, but this is an academic question anyway because it's a fait accompli. If somebody ever suggests to me there should be more privatization within the NHS, I respond that it's a bit like suggesting water should be diluted.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Hospital Porters in the Media

I’ve been following the way the media portrays members of our ancient and noble profession and I have to confess to being enormously dismayed. Almost universally we are portrayed in one of two forms: nameless cameo roles who come and go in the background while the Richard Chamberlain’s and Kenneth Williams’ of this world bask in the limelight; or as inferior-feeling, insecure individuals who are frustrated with their lowly position on life.
 The media history of hospital porters began in 1964 with the American slapstick comedy film The Disorderly Orderly. It stars Jerry Lewis as a porter at a chronic care sanatorium, roving from one funny and embarrassing situation to the next. The film is very shallow and weak, a pale imitator of the British Carry On films but with none of the Carry On's style and wit. What’s more the Lewis’ character is only serving as an orderly because he couldn’t get into medical school. This is a recurring theme in media portrayals of hospital porters and I’ll come back to that.
The one departure from the two main stereotypes that I’ve come across is in the 1980 David Lynch film The Elephant Man. This is an adaptation of the true-life story of Joseph Merrick, a grossly disfigured man who lived in Victorian London. The original 1942 book written about him by Ashley Montagu is subtitled: A Study in Human Dignity, which is ironic considering how the film dealt with the subject of hospital porters. The film considerably deviates from historical facts to add energy to the plot. One of those deviations has Merrick kidnapped from the hospital where he is being treated by an unscrupulous freak-show owner; and the cruel man who helps to organize the abduction is one of the hospital’s porters, played by Michael Elphick. So the score so far for hospital porter portrayals is: Conformist Stereotype 1- Evil Greedy Bastard 1! Will things get any better?

They don’t. In fact they get far, far worse! The next stop on our journey is the popular and long-running BBC drama Casualty and its spin off show Holby City. The series is set in a contemporary British NHS hospital and nearly all the characters are doctors or nurses, or PAM’s like receptionists, managers and social workers. Only one major character has been a porter and this was Jimmy Powell who was in the series between 1989 and 1991, played by Robson Green. Unfortunately Jimmy’s main purpose in the story, from what I could see, was to walk round with his head bowed and his shoulders slumped in shame whining "I wish I was a nurse, I wish I was a nurse! I wish I wasn’t only a porter!"

This deeply insulting and patronizing characterization of hospital porters stoops to its nadir in the 1990 film Paper Mask. It’s a little-known film, and obscurity has never been so richly deserved! It stars Paul McGann as a hospital porter very much like Jimmy, with a devastating inferiority complex and deep regrets that he hasn’t gone "up the ladder" to do something "better" with his life. Seeing as he hasn’t got the bus-fare upstairs to study and become the doctor he dreams of being, he steals the identity of a doctor at his hospital who gets killed in a car crash. At the time of writing it is available free online: http://hpanwo-hpwa.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/paper-mask-full-movie-online.html. I’m sad to say that there is only one, single fictional source I know of where hospital porters are portrayed in a positive light… and that’s my own novel Evan’s Land. See: http://hpanwo-bb.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/evans-land-for-sale.html.