Bruce’s leaving party

The pattering of rain drops grow louder as I walk into the kitchen. It is raining heavily and making big splashes on my conservatory roof. A perfect day to stay at home and watch the rain fall from under the duvet, but work beckons. As I leave for work, it is still drizzling. It is difficult to see the potholes on the road when they are filled with water and the rims merge with the road surface. The snow has left a crumbling road surface in its aftermath. I drive slowly trying to avoid the holes and sometimes miss. The tyres thud softly as I inadvertently hit another pothole. The roads are not busy. The children are on their Easter break.

I am covering the duty day consultant’s phone today. The day passes quietly without too many problems. It is Bruce’s leaving party tonight. Another colleague is leaving the department.

Sudhanshu agrees to cover my duties as I leave an hour early from work. I need to pick up Indira and Kanthi before finding the restaurant in Brentwood. The satnav takes me one way and Kanthi’s googlemap another. We drive around in circles and lose our way but arrive before the food is served. Joanna has found and organised the send off at a lovely restaurant. A seafood place which is tastefully decorated with big murals of lobsters and shellfish on the walls. Most of our anaesthetic colleagues, departmental officials and surgical colleagues have turned up. After a delicious meal the speeches get underway. Paul leads the talks and gives us a brief history of Bruce’s career spanning from South Africa to Romford.

Bruce started working at Oldchurch Hospital, as it was then known, a few months before I did. I’ve known him now for over twenty years. A keen cyclist, who cycles to and from work. The most fit sexagenarian that I know. Somebody with years of knowledge and experience. Somebody you could always turn to for advice and help especially in his expertise fields of trauma and ENT surgery. Somebody who is not frightened to show his human side when as our profession reveals the frightening side of how narrow a gap lies between life and death. The bearded friendly soul whose presence will be sorely missed. Tuesday lunchtimes were always a joy. The time when we all got together, shared stories and experiences. First Indira, then Pauline and now Bruce is leaving. It is an end of an era as they would say. A sad day for the department and for me. Once again thank you Bruce, for being a wonderful friend and colleague. My Tuesdays will never be the same again.

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