Friday, 18 September 2009

The Lords of the Rings

The forces of darkness are closing in around me. It could be my fertile imagination or a case of paranoia brought on by the ridiculous amounts of painkillers I’m ingesting, but I swear I can feel the eye of Prime Minister Gordon Brown searching me out like Sauron in Lord of the Rings. What I wouldn’t give for a ring to slip on my finger to make me invisible right now.

The media attention that the blog has generated worldwide has been phenomenal but anonymity is a fragile commodity. The media doesn’t like people being anonymous. They choose whether you can be anonymous or not. I wonder how many of Rupert’s henchmen are lurking round hospital gates up and down the country attempting to get information on the whereabouts of Traction Man from doctors and nurses as they come and go on their shifts.

Frankly, I’m already getting odd looks from the nurses every time I get my laptop out and start typing. Taking a call for an interview with an Australian radio station at breakfast time wasn’t exactly the subtlest way of keeping a low profile either. I’ve donated some cakes and biscuits to the nurses’ rest room in the hope of buying their silence for a little while longer. Mind you, with nurses earning a pretty low salary for a bloody hard job, I think if I were them I’d be tempted to take thirty pieces of silver from Rupert Murdoch in order to reveal the whereabouts of Traction Man

So, for this reason I’m going to have to play it safe. That’s why I’m typing this entry from under my bed sheet. This is harder than you might imagine considering my left leg is strung up and immobile. With my head under the sheet I must look, to the casual observer, like a dog cleaning his private parts or a politician partaking in some sort of auto-erotic asphyxiation. But I can’t give up now. The battle against the gloop must continue and I must continue to write this blog.

It turns out that this hospital food scandal isn’t a peculiarly British phenomenon. I mean, we Brits are just brilliant at doing things badly but it would appear that many other countries are jockeying for the title of worst hospital food in the world. According to people commenting here on the blog there are some prime candidates eager to snatch our crown for this dubious accolade. Apparently Canada comes in fairly high up the slop scale along with some German and American hospitals. Australia has less chance of winning (and not just at cricket) because some of their hospitals have been known to serve fresh fruit, properly cooked vegetables and even meat that hasn’t been minced to within an inch of its life.

There’s certainly stiff competition but I think we Brits are definite Gold Medallists in the Cat Sick and Sludge category. Perhaps we should think about holding a Hospital Food Olympics. Why not in London, in 2012, the Home of Hospital Mush? Every four years the nations of the world could come together to see who could take gold, silver and bronze in the various hospital grub categories. Of course, we’ll need to think up some suitable categories so I’m depending on you, dear reader, to come up with some good ideas. So let’s start now, shall we?

Let the games commence!


  1. Please don't stop this blog. It has been most enjoyable reading and remerbering my time in a spainish hospital. The food there is just as bad as you say it is back in the U.K. I lost 20 kg in one mounth. I hope they don't find you and you can make a bit of money out of this maybe write it into a book

  2. I am reminded of an old story concerning U.S.Army standardised cooking. Wherever you were in the world the army would stick to the same recipes so the servicemen and women felt 'at home.

    One recipe was of minced beef mixed with condenced milk. It looked like your fotos. Elvis Presley used to love it!!

    It was known throughout the army as S.O.S.

    Shit On A Shovel !!

    Perfect name for the awards. Get well soon.

  3. Excellent... let's have a few more!

  4. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you to remain anonymous! I hope you don't stop blogging, you've became one of my favorites pretty quickly, I mentioned you and linked you on my blog in hopes my blogger buddies can help you figure out what the heck they are feeding you too!!!

  5. Perhaps you could get all the other patients around you to start Blogging, and then you can lose yourself in the crowd! Please don't stop. Despite your horrible predicament, you are making so many people laugh and that is a virtue that not many possess. wishing you a very speedy recovery. xx

  6. Just read some of the negative comments...fuck 'em...not in good financial shape at mo but will donate a bit towards your broadband costs mate...not a lot but willingly and happily given...cheers

  7. Done I said, not a lot but I'd imagine every little helps...keep the faith :-)

  8. w/v outallya....worth the little donation just for that hahahaha

  9. Keep writing traction man, brilliant! I'm recent to your blog but absolutely love it!

    How about 100m hurls? Countries line up their patients in a replica hospital hall and force feed them their 'best meal'. Furthest projectile vomit wins gold...

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery or at least some decent food! You have at least one fan down in South Africa

  10. Internal Memo - Secret.

    To The Prime Minister.

    Copies to - CIA – NSA – EEC - President Obhama.

    From GCHQ

    Subject - Traction Man.

    Confirming telephone conversation with Lord Mandelson we are making every effort to trace the purveyor of seditious information regarding hospital food. The delay is due to the fact that most of our surveillance/intercept teams were assigned to the TUC conference or seeking out the mole who disclosed the details of government spending plans (reduction) to the Tory party.

    Permission is acknowledged for the recruitment of additional staff (371,000) from the unemployment register which should enable us to achieve a successful conclusion to this matter. This will also assist the government in its claims of working to reduce unemployment.

    Early indications are that members of the staff at his as yet non identified hospital are assisting him in this – perhaps you may consider these people in plans for reductions in health service personal.

    The SAS have requested assistance with bus fares for their strike force when the culprit is located due to a shortage of helicopters.

  11. I'll donate my premium bond win ... £25.00 :)
    Mars bars and crisps from the trolley !
    Really hope you get a result from this campaign !

  12. Categories? how about these for a start?

    mystery meat or tvp? you decide.
    soup or slop?
    How far will your hash brown fly? and how much damage will it do when it lands?
    Name the mystery sauce?
    How to create a "meal" for 30p?
    Is it a pea or is it ammunition?
    How high can you build a wall using NHS cheese sauce as the morter?
    Was it a vegetable? and for bonus points name it.

    Anyone else care to add to this list?
    Good luck and get well soon from a former sufferer of nhs "cuisine"

  13. Great blog. As a veteran hospital blogger (3 years + at I know what a lifeline it can provide for the person trapped at the mercy of the NHS. Rather luckily for me they managed to wipe out my saliva glands with radiotherapy so that I can no longer eat solid food. What this means is that now every time I'm admitted I need to get a prescription from a hospital dietician for nutritional supplement drinks. And try finding one of those in less than three days (during which, presumably, one is expected to starve!). Have now learned to smuggle in my own supplies. Of course there's not a lot of point posting photos of nutritional supplement drinks. As exciting as they sound, they're not very photogenic! I enjoyed your pics though. Good luck to you. J

  14. My predicament is as nothing to yours. I'm really sorry. That must be awful. You have my best wishes and keep blogging.

  15. The Mangled Carrot competition. The team who can best mangle carrots into a shape so that they no longer resemble carrot in any way wins the gold medal. Then there's the competition for dreaming up the most inappropriate name for reconstituted potato. The name Potato Gem has already been used by the hospital caterers, so anyone using this name will be disqualified.

  16. I love your covert wary of those aides and porters, they make less than the nurses.

    Mystery Food Olympics...

    Mac&Cheese Muscle, one of your posters mentioned using the stuff to glue someone onto the belly of a plane...I propose to use drug traffikers (so they can say they did something worthwhile with their lives) and if the civil rights boards complain use them (I volunteer Canada's). Anyways, put them in the suits, stick them to the underside of planes and do the loop-de-loops. It is a timed event--the longevity of the sticking power.
    It can be combined with the--Mystery Meat Drop. The poor saps stuck to the planes drop the entries and the depth of the craters created by the meat pieces determine medal placement.

    Soup Sling--distance the soup travels when flung.

    Jello Bounce--amount of time the blob bounces

    Coffee Clean--coffee is used to clean corroded gas pipelines, the shiniest pipe wins

    Just a few...


  17. Every year at our Uni we used to have an Iron Gut event which involved, amongst other vomit inducing activities, eating as much vegemite as possible. Now i know your marmite is close but your food olympics idea might consider a similar category. I have a feeling it would help TV ratings too by broading the appeal to the bizarre Asian game show market.

    Keep up the great work! Looking forward to seeing where this viral ride takes you!


  18. Just wait until the rabid socialists start infecting your comments with their support of the NHS and everything they do...

  19. What about....The Egg and Stool Race?
    Meat and Three Legs Race?
    High Dump? Barfery?

  20. I'm very sorry to hear about your current predicament, however I must also add that I've never seen anyone in all my life make the most of it as you have done and are doing. You are an inspiration to us all! Your humor and quick wit has me rolling in my chair! You, sir, are a hoot!
    This past November, I found myself in the hospital with major surgery. A day later, I was starving! They wouldn't feed me! Then.. when they DID finally deem me worthy to receive sustenance, I completely wish they hadn't bothered! I wish I had taken pictures of that muck they were passing as dinner so you could see what America had to offer. (*it ain't much, let me tell you*)!
    In looking at your photo's, I found myself saying, out loud mind you.. to my computer screen, "What IS THAT?" They certainly like fluids in whatever they're serving you, don't they?
    I feel for you and if you weren't anonymous,I would send you a care package in the mail with some edible surprises!
    Hats off to you sir and godspeed for a complete recovery!

  21. I like a lot of the suggestions for the Olympics. Might I add:

    Custard throw - like the long shot only with custard. Points added for how many times the custard bounces.

    Runner bean javelin throw - obvious from the title. Could use Asperagus as a replacement IF available.

    Miscellaneous Meat Contest - See which team can turn recognisable animal parts into something that can't be identified by sight, taste or smell with only the contents of a standard kitchen.

    Slop stick - each team throws their slop (white sauce) onto a brick wall, the one that stays up the longest wins.

    I apologise in advance if any of these have already been suggested.

    Keep up the good work with the blog. The Nation (and several others from the sound of it) are behind you :)

  22. My only concern about your wonderful blog is that other kitchen staff in hospitals world wide will see the selections you are served and worry they are falling behind in the "oh my gosh, what the hell is this crap!!" menu artistry (abuse) they all live for.

    No longer content to offer lump of cold shoe leather boiled in pepto and coated with cigar ash and pencil shaving and deep fried in camel fat. With a side of canned okra and creamed corn. They will be compelled to add a SAUCE to everything.

    And considering that crayola crayons are made here in the States they have a very wide color range to choose from. And you should see the amount of road kill on some of our highways. Yep the possibilities are endless. Gee thanks.


  23. I love your blog - I only discovered it a couple of days ago thanks to the BBC but I have been reading it avidly ever since. Please get it published and make a mint out of it - you certainly deserve it after everything you have been through.

    I do hope you get well soon (even though I will miss the blog) but I do wonder how they ever hope to cure you when they keep feeding you all this rubbish!

  24. How about the marrowathon? The team who can make the worst marrow stroganoff and create the most agonising stomach pain in the hapless patients for the longest time wins.

  25. Another "Hi" from Australia - I'm in Melbourne. Fantastic writing and absolutely hilarious! I too hope you're able to keep anonymous... and keep writing. Get well soon. :)

  26. I'm waiting to see if the wonderful bacon and onion suet roly poly is still on the menu. Served with mash and boiled-to-slime white cabbage - I had this in a London hospital after the birth of my first child. It did actually have real bacon in it so probably too nutritious by today's standards! I ate the bacon . . .

  27. Traction Man just had to say really enjoying the blog, best laugh I've had in a long time. All the best to you, and get well soon.

  28. Amusing and interesting blog. I've just come out of a week in a major hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and I reckon the "food" I was offered looks as bad or worse than what I've seen here. I now know what the cliche of "dishwater for soup" looks, smells and tastes like. I've also experienced the NHS, having lived in the UK for five years and spent two stays in hospital in London - and shiver at the thought of what they called "meat".

  29. We hear you. Take heart. There is hope and there is definitely better food!

  30. I reckon there should be a shoot the chef category....he fookin deserves it...

  31. Go well Traction Man. I am gluten intolerant and last time I was in a private hospital in Melbourne I was informed they could not help. I was given a plate of white rice and I used an 85g tin of tuna I had brought from home. Glad I was not in for the long haul . . .

  32. OMG you are hilarious. I'm glad I found your blog through Reuters. I've always thought it was ironic that a hospital should be a place of healing but they serve "food" that will kill you slowly.

    I only had a three-day hospital stay in Singapore, where I am from, to remove all four wisdome teeth and I was shocked at the amount of MSG in my macaroni chicken soup. And the brown lettuce leaves and rancid oil floating in the broth. I lost 3 kilos and left the hospital with a very flat stomach.

  33. Your pictures have brought back memories for me, unpleasant memories of months spent in an isolation unit with a 5 year old on chemotherapy. People who haven't experienced the 'modern' NHS don't believe food can be that awful, especially food for the ill but your camera doesn't lie!
    What your pictures can't convey however is the taste (or rather lack of taste), the stewed smell, grubby trays, & lukewarm tea. It wears you down.
    I commend your ability to keep you spirits up and your sense of humour. Keep blogging.

  34. I put you up in my FB links so all my friends can read.
    When it comes to hospitals at least there you have a reasonable level of care.Here we have Drs who tell you that you are lying about your drug allergies and that you really dont know anything about what is wrong with you.They also have this tendancy to not listen or to read test results or Xrays.I was told I still had parts of me that I was born without LOL.
    Good luck and Get well soon.Maybe use some of your donations to get some Vitamins and that way you might heal faster.Light and Love to you

  35. Here are a few events :

    Aquatics - which team makes the thinnest soup
    Projectile Vomit Archery
    Athletics - who runs to be sick first - not a paraplegic event
    Boxing - when the staff come looking for your gratitude
    Cycling - Actually REcycling of unused food
    Equestrian - meat from which part of the horse (or dog)
    Fencing - who can make the most from selling left-over hospital food
    Gymnastics for geriatrics - who can contort best missing their mouth
    Patients’ pentathlon - morning cuppa, breakfast, lunch, afternoon biscuit, supper - slowest wins
    Weightlifting - getting that macaroni cheese off the plate
    Wrestling - WTF rules - guessing the food
    Curling - up in revulsion, most contorted wins

    I have heard of people curing cancer with only Vit C and LAUGHTER - you will be well in no time, judging from your writing !

    Alan Douglas