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Bursting through the double doors of ‘Jack the Ripper’ ward as though he was as healthy as an athlete, Norman Binns stopped at the end of Figgis’ bed and held his hands together, placing his weight from one foot to the other in excited impatience. Figgis continued to read his socialist newspaper, ignoring Norman’s presence.

“What’s made you all flustered this morning, Norman?” Glover said, sitting on the side of his own bed, preening himself in front of the hand-held mirror like a majestic bird. “New attractive nurse in the next ward?”

“No, it’s not that, Archie. It’s who I’ve just glimpsed in the day room.”

Figgis placed down his newspaper. “Oh yeah? What’s all this?”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, Fig. It’s Dr. Love, he’s returned to us. They’re all lining up to shake his hand.”

“Why? Has he the power of healing now?” Figgis snorted. “They’ll be kissing his feet next, you wait. And he’s back already? Blimey, even the starving orphans got fed up with that perfect smile and charitable nature.”

Norman sighed and climbed back into his bed, placing the cover right up to his chin. “They didn’t get fed up! He’s only back temporarily. Apparently, he’s back in town raising money for a local charity. They want the money for some equipment for this hospital.”

“So even on his break from charity he’s here to be even more…charitable.” Glover stroked his moustache and finally put down his mirror. “He makes the rest of us seem so…”

“Useless?” Figgis said. “Nah, he’s just doing it for the praise. It’s the fame as well, I’ll bet.”

“He cares about people, Fig,” Norman said.

“He probably just wants to impress the nurses,” Glover said.

“Not really. He’s very busy organising,” Norman said. “He’s apparently brought a friend along with him to help. I can’t wait to see Dr. Love again. I wonder if he’ll remember me.”

“The way you fawned over him; how could he forget?!” Figgis said.

“Oh, you’re not talking about that poser, Dr. Love again, are you?” said the sour-faced Dr. Thorpe as he arrived in the ward with Gupte.

Gupte was folding his arms at the doctor’s judgment, clearly having heard it already. “Now, now, Dr. Thorpe, I’d hardly describe him as a poser. He mostly refuses to be showered with praise or even photographed.”

“Probably has no reflection,” Figgis said.

“He’s been back five minutes and already he’s fundraising to donate generously for this hospital.” Dr. Thorpe aggressively rolled up Glover’s sleeve.

“Is that such a bad thing, Doctor?” Norman asked.

“I’m inclined to agree with Norman,” Gupte added.

“The two of you are as naïve as each other,” Thorpe said, yanking Glover’s arm back and forth with no thought to his comfort.

Figgis smirked. “He has a better bedside manner than you.”

“He does not!” Dr. Thorpe glanced down at the twisted arm of Glover’s in his own. He laughed nervously and released him. “But all this love and harmony nonsense doesn’t do the patient any good. I’ve never met anyone so fake, so phoney in all my life.”

Suddenly Dr. Love appeared in the ward dressed in his civvies, looking tanned and casual, a camera round his neck against his shirt which was unbuttoned most of the way down— showing much of his chest. “Hello fellas, nice to be back with the gang.”

“Oh, Dr. Love, didn’t see you there.” Dr. Thorpe shook his hand. “How lovely to see you back. It’s wonderful what you’re doing for the hospital. I admire your ambition.”

Dr. Thorpe forced a smile, grabbed Gupte’s arm and then pulled him from the ward, muttering under his breath as he did so. Watching them leave, Dr. Love smiled his impressive smile before sitting on Norman’s bed.

“I’m surprised to see you three still in here. Surely you should be going home by now?”

Glover sighed deeply. “I’m a sick man, doctor.”

Dr. Love shook his head and then turned his attentions to Norman. He tapped his leg. “And how’s my favourite patient?”

Norman pointed at himself. “You mean me?”

“Yes, Norman, I mean you. Any pain?”

Norman pointed to his stomach. “A bit down here but I’m feeling much better now that you’re here. Tell me all about your work in Africa.”

“Don’t want to bore Figgis and Glover, besides, my friend will be along in a minute and we can discuss the photographs.”

“Photographs?” Glover said, sitting to attention.

“I’d like a patient in this hospital to be the poster boy or girl of the campaign. We’re taking photographs of the patients, with their permission of course, to see who works best for the message we’re getting out there.”

It was at that moment that another handsome man entered the room and placed his arm around Dr. Love’s shoulder. “Ready to begin, Nicky?”

The other three mouthed ‘Nicky’, never having been privy to the first name of the famous Dr. Love before.

“Thanks, Danny,” Dr. Love replied with a big grin reserved for his friend. “Just telling the fellas about the campaign. Boys, this is my very special friend Daniel De La Tour.”

“Hear that, Glover, his ‘special’ friend?” Figgis whispered aside.

“Nice to meet you gentlmen,” Daniel said. “Nicky’s been working really hard trying to find the right image for the posters.” He suddenly took a glance at Norman. “Goodness, you’ve got the face of innocence itself, that’s worthy of a photograph for future reference.”

“Norman’s my favourite patient.”

“I can see why.”

Figgis and Glover exchanged uncomfortable mutual glances, shuffling away in their beds.

“I’d be honoured to have my picture for consideration,” Norman said.

“Now hang on,” Figgis said. “That’s not a good look for your campaign. Good looking, fresh-faced, nah, that’s not how it is. If you want to show we need money and facilities, show ‘em the faces of the weathered, the lame, the burnt and maimed. Show ‘em age and decay.”

“No one wants to see your face, Figgis,” Glover said with laughter. “Personally, I think a sophisticated look might be more appropriate, after all if you want handouts then we need a real image to promote this hospital, one of striving for better. A celebrity, a public figure, a man with impeccable taste.”

Dr. Love scrunched up his nose. “Appreciate the thought, Glover, but we really want to think to the future with this. Something that makes everyone want to join in and be included in our community and our love of this hospital.”

 

“I wonder who he’ll pick,” Norman said later that day, clutching teddy and staring into space.

“Not us,” Figgis said. “You wait, it’ll be himself and that French fancy of his.”

“He’s not in it for the fame, I told you,” Norman said. “He wants to help.”

“So you keep saying,” Glover said. “But charity types are invariably in it for themselves. It makes them feel good, Norman.”

“Some maybe, but not Dr. Love. He does it because he cares. I didn’t realise he’d bring a friend with him all the way from working in Africa though.”

“Don’t tell me you’re jealous?” Figgis said.

“No.” Norman folded his arms. “Well I thought I was his favourite, that’s all. I was going to ride on his motorbike.”

“Think someone else might already be riding on that, Norman.”

“Besides, you’re still his favourite patient, stop hogging him, won’t you?” Glover said.

“And you, Glover, only want to get in with him so it’s your face on the campaign,” Figgis added.

“It’s not that, I just want to make sure the hospital is well-funded.”

“Yeah and what’s this charity fundraiser for? What is it raising funds for specifically?”

Glover glanced around. “I don’t know the finer details. But we need strong leadership to make it work.”

“No, because you weren’t listening and you didn’t read his dossier.” Figgis held it up a thick booklet. “Typical Tory, blabbering on about strength and leadership whilst ignoring the little details.”

“Well, go on then, enlighten me, what is it for?”

“No idea, haven’t read it.”

“You haven’t read the finer details either and you’re lecturing me?”

“Well, I didn’t need to read it. I’m a patient at this hospital, I know everything what goes on in these walls.”

“So, you know the facts by gut feeling and life experience? Sounds about right!”

“Now, now, does it really matter?” Norman said, trying to mediate.

At the sound of raised voices, Dr. Love entered the ward. “Fellas, fellas, what’s with the squabbles? I thought you were the three musketeers?”

“We’re having friendly banter, Doctor,” Norman told him. “We were wondering about the campaign. Have you made a decision yet?”

Dr. Love rubbed his hands together with excitement. He then made his way to the table and pulled out one of the chairs, beckoning them over to join him.

“What’s all this paperwork?” Figgis asked.

“The plans, Figgis, the plans,” Dr. Love enthused. “Daniel and I have been up all night.”

“Oh yeah?” Figgis’ eyebrow rose.

“And we’ve come to the conclusion that we wanted a campaign that showcased all walks of life.”

With a dreamy gaze at the doctor, Norman smiled. “I think that’s wonderful. Mother’s always saying we should love everyone on this world…well…as long as they go to church and don’t have loose morals.”

“Well, yes, Norman, we want to say that this hospital is for everyone’s needs. This is the NHS after all and if we want to raise cash for something important, we need to appeal to the people.”

“Question is why we’re underfunded in the first place,” Figgis grumbled, ignoring the eyeroll from Glover who sensed one of his rants coming. “We shouldn’t need to raise funds for something we’re entitled to.”

“Everything needs a little help,” Dr. Love said. “You should go to the poorest places I’ve been to then you’d truly appreciate what you have here, Figgis.”

Glover glanced over the posters that rested upon the table. “Can we see the posters? Have you picked a suitable face? I do hope you’ve not gone for some gap-toothed yokel?”

“Better than going for some toff in a dressing gown,” Figgis retorted.

“You two haven’t read the dossier, have you?” Dr. Love said. “Inclusivity that’s what we’re showing. When we’re all in it together we can achieve anything.”

“So, who won?” Norman said, touching the poster delicately.

Dr. Love laughed. “No one ‘won’, Norman, but here, take a look.”

He rolled out the poster and the other three stared down at it and then looked at each other with surprised glances. On the foreground of a bright poster was a photograph of Gupte with a beaming smile, a bandage on his head.

“But he’s not a patient!” Figgis said. “False advertising!”

“But we want the public to know that we cater to all nationalities, all races, religions, classes. And you’ll see he’s not the only face of the poster. You fellas all got to be featured.”

They first glanced down at the smiling face of Norman, holding teddy in his arms. Underneath the picture read: ‘The optimistic youth’. Next the picture was of Glover looking well-groomed and reading a book. The caption said: ‘The upper-classes’. Finally, there was a picture of Figgis scowling. It read: ‘The working man.’

“What do you fellas think?”

“Well…it’s interesting, Doctor,” Figgis said.

“I thought you’d all approve.” He slapped his knees and then got up, rolling up the poster and carrying it under his arm. “Gotta dash. Danny and I are gonna grab some lunch. Norman, I’ll give you a shout later about a ride on my motorbike. If your body can take it.”

“I’m not sure it can,” Figgis remarked. “He’s just a boy!”

Dr. Love laughed, saluted, and then left the ward, leaving the three of them gobsmacked at what they’d witnessed.

“What on earth was that atrocity?” Glover said. “We only wanted to raise money for some extra equipment not this farce.”

“He did his best,” Norman said, also thinking the poster to be badly done.

Figgis shook his head. “His heart was in the right place, no doubt, but he laid it on all a bit thick. The public will see right through it, think he’s a raving tree-hugger. I believe in equality for all, Norman, but this poster is like an after-school special. And I think we all can equally agree it’s bad.”

Suddenly there was a giggle from Glover.

“What?”

“We’ve found it at last.”

“Found what, Archie?” Norman asked.

“His Achilles heel, Norman. He’s not so good at everything after all. Handsome, yes. Kind, yes. Sporting and popular, yes. Can’t design or do marketing… for toffee.”

“Well he’s still a hero to me,” Norman admitted.

“Makes him more human I suppose,” Figgis said. “You shouldn’t idolise him, Norman. He’s just as flawed as the rest of us. Dr. Nicholas Love, blimey what an apt name given the amount of female adulation in his direction.”

Dr. Love and Daniel entered the ward a few days later both with surprisingly cheery grins despite the fact it was now public knowledge that the local charity had rejected their main campaign and were going in a different direction more akin to their initial idea.

“Hello fellas, hear the news?” Dr. Love said, sitting down beside Norman. Daniel sat on the other side of the bed.

“Yes, it’s all over the hospital like an infectious disease,” Figgis said. “Well, as long as you get the money, doesn’t matter what the poster is.”

“Very true, Mr. Figgis,” Daniel said. “We got it wrong. Our original idea was much better and has had a great deal of impact already.”

“What is your original idea, Mr. De La Tour?” Glover asked.

Daniel smiled and rolled out the poster to where a picture of Norman’s face covered much of it. “It seems Norman’s face has touched everyone’s hearts. Apparently as soon as they see his face, people want to donate money. It’s like putting a picture of a puppy or a kitten.”

Norman grinned. “Glad I could help.”

Glover folded his arms and sneered. “Ageism rears his ugly head.”

Dr. Love laughed and then slapped Norman’s thigh. “Think you’ve earned that ride on the old motorcycle.” He threw his leather jacket over his shoulder and handed a spare helmet to Norman. “Protection at all times. You’ll have to go behind. Hope you don’t mind holding onto me.”

Figgis and Glover exchanged glances.

Daniel smiled as Dr. Love and Norman began to make their way from the ward. He looked over at the two men. “Don’t suppose either of you wants a go?”

“No!” they replied in unison.