Thursday, 17 September 2009

The slop hits the fan

You find me here in the wee small hours, unable to sleep as I nibble nervously on the corner of a custard cream and await dawn’s first rosy fingers to strike the brick wall opposite my cell room window and wait for the knock at the door.

The Department of Health isn’t particularly noted for being a big soft Andrex puppy with a super sense of fun that loves nothing more than rolling over and having its tummy tickled. It’s more of a Rottweiler with a bad case of gout, a severe toothache and a personality disorder thrown in for good measure. By the time you read this, the first editions of the nation’s tabloids and broadsheets will have hit the streets and Gordon Brown will have gone postal. He’ll have called an emergency meeting of the COBRA committee in order to hunt down the mole responsible for the Hospital Food Bingo story; a story that’s appears to have taken on a life of its own in the preceding 24 hours and is now plastered all over the nation’s papers.

I can picture it now. It’s similar to the scene in the film Downfall where Hitler’s last few trusted henchmen are trying to break the news to the Fuhrer that the game is up. Deep in the bowels of 10 Downing Street, Gordon is staring at the first editions of the morning papers as Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham, wrings his hands and cowers in front the great man’s desk.

“Why wasn’t this spotted sooner?” Brown asks Mandelson, who is stood behind and slightly to the left of him.

“An excellent question Prime Minster. I’m afraid the ungrateful traitor who perpetrated this foul calumny apparently did so via Facebook, and then only to a select band of friends. Apparently one of those friends thought it was funny and sent a copy to the press.”

“I don’t see anything funny about it. How come it’s all over the papers this morning.”

Burnham cleared his throat nervously. “I think the press thought he had a valid point. Nearly half of all hospital food is wasted and  goes uneaten. Thousands of people leave hospital with malnutrition each year. Perhaps they thought it was newsworthy.”

A large clunking fist slams down on the table, Brown trembles, his face ashen with rage. “I didn’t run up the biggest budget deficit in the history of this country just so some ungrateful provincial hack could take the piss out of good wholesome NHS food. Food, which I might add, the ungrateful bastard is getting for free. I want this individual found. I want him hunted down and identified before I make a statement on the One O’Clock News.”

“Shouldn’t be too hard to find him,” Mandelson purrs in Brown’s ear. “We know his age, his approximate location, his medical condition and his occupation. Shouldn’t take us more than half an hour.”

“Bring him in for questioning. Confiscate his computer, mobile phone and camera equipment. We can’t allow this sort of thing to undermine the progress we’ve made in reforming the NHS. Dawn Primarolo has spent months getting rid of every last scrap of salt, fat, sugar and taste from hospital food and this worthless piece of shit decides to take the piss out of it.”

“Burnham… get the hospitals to check for anyone else who’s not eating their food and put them under surveillance. In the meantime, someone get Jamie Oliver on the phone… there’s work to be done.”


  1. I'd be ordering out for a few days if I were you and getting a back-up computer :-)
    Whatever shit doesn't hit the fan will be going straight into the frying pan. I haven't laughed so much in ages. You poor bugger... I hope you get better soon. If it's any consolation, hospital cookbooks (ha!) are a universal edition. all the best from Suziewho in Brisbane, Oz.

  2. I agree with previous comment.. have someone taste your slop first - that makes you like a king, right? You're really in trouble now, in the news all over the Pacific (NZ for me).
    Go hard.
    Best Kiwiswiss

  3. Yep the slop has hit the fan all the way here in Australia. Love it, though must admitt that the slop looks similar to some thngs made in my kitchen. Lets pretend it was from the kids efforts.

  4. ditto to what you said Suziewho........they surely know who you are, there is no way I would be eating a morsel or sipping that cup of tea......never insult someone who is going to serve you food, oh dear you poor thing. You should see what they serve in a hospital in PNG, now that is something to behold..........BrissyG

  5. Oh crumbs, the menu looks like something from British Rail from days gone by. Maybe they are recycling the menus and food ideas as a way of keeping carbon emissions down and getting a "green tick" for efficiency? Get well soon Traction Man - Jackie of Sunny Queensland Australia

  6. Still, if the kitchen staff do seek revenge by spitting in your food, it might improve the taste!

    I haven't laughed so much in a long time, though I do feel incredibly sorry for you. Is there anything your growing band of readers can do for you? Perhaps we could arrange food deliveries, or recruit local grannies to bring you hot meals!

  7. Heh, it's on the front page of the Sydney papers. Can you hear me laughing? Whatever happens, please don't stop writing when you are released from that place.

  8. Fabulous - how charming and funny you British men are:) Would love to send you a slice of my Lasagna but I'm afraid it may arrive in worse shape than your

  9. Time for the novel that apparently everyone has inside them - what about a tv script based on your adventures and observations - or has that been done already - get well soon but please dont stop the blog.
    Hervey Bay QLD Australia

  10. A fantastic and most entertaining blog. Keep it coming, especially the food bingo competition. I don't think the food should be this bad though, as I had a week long hospital stay in a Gold Coast (AUS) hospital and the food was great (and I love my food). Atlantic salmon was a regular option. Don from Gold Coast, QLD, Australia.

  11. Hey Traction man, just letting you know youre hitting the news over in here in Oz as well. Hilarious blog, but you know they WILL find you and WILL poke things in your azz now ;)

    BTW, a mate of mine was in traction for 6 months a couple of years ago and we organised a "professional" visitor for him (if you catch my drift) who gave him a special massage. At least that would keep your mind off the brick wall for 15 minutes....

  12. How are you today Traction Man? The weather is sunny and warm here north of Brisbane in OZland. Just exercise caution re food criticisms. you don't know what other additives will be included, now that you're known to be a tad dissatisified. I do know where you're coming from tho' having been hospitalised many times in my lifetime. Private hospitals are the way to go. Better food than at my place!!! Cheers !!! Aunty H from Brisbane

  13. And I thought it was just the Australian hospital system that literally serves faeces on a plate to their patients. I've been eating it all my life! I’ve spent a few years total of my life in hospital and I had 3 months in traction - halo traction - and I too ate chocolate and chips and any other crap I could get my hands on, until I almost busted out of my brace! So take it easy.

    Good luck from Sydney Australia - check out my blog if you want to bore yourself further.

    And my other blog that's boring my family and friends as I pop in and out of the hospital system again now.


  14. Welcome to South Africa! It looks like you're going global. I work for a healthcare company here and the food is awful, at least yours has come color !! I will be back for another visit!

  15. With apologies to Louis Armstrong:

    I see peas of green, red sloppy stew
    I see ‘em mushrooms, that I can’t chew
    And I think to myself, what a chunderful world.

    I see puddings of blue, mash of white
    Bright orange carrots, that glow at night
    And I think to myself, what’s that food I just hurled?

    The colours of a sewer, so pretty in my pie
    The sadness on the faces, of nurses going by
    I see doctors shaking heads, saying what’s that brown goo?
    They’re really saying, “Glad I’m not you”.

    I hear patients cry, eat cold broth slow
    They guess what’s floating, but never know
    And I think to myself, what a chunderful world!

  16. Great blog. Its a shame that doubtless it will be used to knock the NHS by some. Worth pointing out that the catering in hospitals in the UK has been 'outsourced" and it's the market operating in a monopoly situation that unleashes the slop on the likes of you.

    Get well quick, traction dude!

  17. Dear Traction Man, hello from Pakistan! I love your blog and I'm going to be visiting often. I feel really bad for you, and your predicament isn't one I'd wish upon anyone... I think I recognized what passes for a chicken qorma in Britain, but I'm not sure. All the best and if you need a penpal, I'd be happy to oblige.

  18. The news seems to have reached Holland as well (although I read it in the Oz Herald).

    Get well soon, although I would miss your comments on the food...


  19. Awesome Blog, but you are now the enemy of the State TractionMan - I'm sure the catering staff will laugh about it.... eventually.... till then.... you're right, you need a Taster, or Food Parcels? With all this success, next question is, who will play you in the movie? Get well soon!

  20. Justified paranoia seems correct. If you go off air for over 24 hours we, your readers, will kick up such a shit not even Gordoon will know what's hit him.



  21. Greetings from Finland too. News travel fast.

  22. Keep up the good work Traction Man. Jamie Oliver will be coming to you for advice soon.
    Oh, and hope you have a speedy recovery.

  23. Good Morning Traction man!

    My 14 year old sister was recently in the Glasgow Victoria hospital after a car accident. She'd been in 9 days with a shoulder injury and when I went to visit her I asked what she made of hospital food. Her response was that she'd rather the car accident had been fatal!!

    I am impressed though that you have a cleaner come into your room. When I was in hospital giving birth to my daughter I was in the same filthy bedsheets for nearly 48 hours (I was unable to even crawl out). When I complained the Ward Sister came to tell me off for being a nuisance- This from Maidstone Hospital!!!!It's a bloody cheek.

    I do hope you recover well. I'll keep and eye on your updates.

    Sincerely, N Blackwell

  24. Ha ha ha ha It sounds just Like Queensland Health

  25. HI TM from sunny Adelaide,
    Sorry to hear of your illness. Keep the old chin up. Remember, you're British!

    It could be worse, you could be in Green Wing.... hmmm... perhaps you have enough material for another series?

    Love your work.

    And when they find you & throw you in gaol at least the food will be better. :)

  26. Thanks for making my day. I'm stuck in bed with a cold and now have a pain in my side caused by my inability to stop laughing at your Blog.
    Keep this up and Charlie Brooker is going to be out of a job.

  27. Hmmm, seems like an audience with the PM is on the cards. Write subliminal messages on your toes for the visit.

    You will probably snare a nice little job from this.If not as a writer... then Royal food taster perhaps.

    Get well.
    Q NSW

  28. The BBC News website is interested in doing a piece today on your story. Perhaps you could drop me a line to

    Hope to hear from you soon. (And that this morning's breakfast was edible.)


  29. Good morning!
    How are you today? Just heard about this site in the morning radio on my way to school this morning. Jakk, I totally agree. Disgusting food! Come here to Iceland and try to eat the hospital food here in Iceland?

  30. Dear Traction Man
    good blog, at least you have online access (still!)
    Weather - it's slightly overcast in Lao today

  31. Yep, you are now world famous Traction man, and I suspect that somewhere, a busy journo with a nose (and face) like a ferret is trying to unveil the secret identity of "Traction Man" (dramatic music!)
    I sincerely hope they fail, because reading your blog has given me the best giggle I have had in a long time :-)
    What people don't realise is that when stuck in hospital for so long, anything that breaks the monotony is grasped and clung on to, even the bloke coming in with his whirry cleaning machine is considered light entertainment. And when that break happens to be (your) last offering of brown porridge with 2 triangles of potato laminated in plastic, then ones spirits do tend to sink somewhat. Only then does the hot chocolate look appetising, hot chocolate that is make with 1 part chocolate powder to 100 parts lukewarm water.
    Keep blogging Traction man,I hope the ferrets don't find you. If you suddenly start getting great meals..... you know they have..

  32. Wow, I bet your life is a little less boring now, running the revolution from the prone position in your hospital bed!

    Excellent blog, keep up the good work - and btw, what ARE you eating?? Are the resistance sending you in food parcels? Want a cake with a file in it? :-)

    All the best,


  33. I'm going into hospital next week and was already not looking forward to the food. Now I am terrified. And I am a vegetarian so imagine I will only get one option.

    A doctor friend told me recently that hospital food is very popular with older patients but it is us young, modern-types who eat fancy ingredients like aubergines and sun-dried tomatoes (i.e. things with flavour) who are expecting too much.

    I hope they do call Jamie Oliver in. Something has to be done.

  34. Greetings from the USA!!!

    Wow, you really HAVE gotten famous.

    You poor, poor soul. I'd send you some of my Grandmothers (may she rest in peace) famous chicken and dumpling soup. It was favorite of mine and my sisters growing up. I'd also send you one o my cakes, if I could.

    My Dad's been in and out of the hospital for minor surgery over the past few months. He's hom,e now, but when I went to visit him I saw what they were feeding him. Edible, but hardly palatable.

    Get well soon!

  35. Thanks for writting such a great blog (sorry you're staying in the NHS Plaza tho! I can tell, like others, food is the same world over! I have to say during one of my stays here in Germany I was served up as regurgitated... well I don't what it was to be honest. It's like prison food also (maybe worse). Rock hard bread and jam, sometimes cheese for breakfast, some kind of warmed up slop for lunch and back to bread and mystery meat rations in the evening. God help me if I told them I only wanted hot water and milk because I have my own T-Bags (PG of course!!!)
    Hubby became a gold star valued customer at the local burger joint, he would order for the ward!!
    I wish you luck, maybe you should have the local takeaways on speed dial, they could be your new best friends!!!

  36. Im winging a big Ulster fry to you as we speak! Keep up the great blog

  37. Might find this interesting
    Hospital food never tasted better

  38. Hello from Paris, France! I wish I could send you some French wine but it would probably get confiscated before it reaches you... Hang in there and I hope you get better soon!

  39. Greetings from ICELAND, Traction Man - I feel your pain. You're in a hard place. Ever try laughter-yoga? It involves laughing at anyone and everything that disturbs you. Try laughing at the food and the staff:) promise it will do wonders for you. When starving, drink some fruit juice+lots of ice together with a mix of nuts and seeds, especially pumkin seeds.
    Get well soon, Inga

  40. Hello from Newcastle, Australia! I just wanted to wish you all the best and speedy recovery! I too am a hospital frequent flyer with all my winters spent in the respiratory ward, with the food looking unfortunately similar. Best of luck to you! Here's hoping you can get something edible tonight...

  41. OMG.....You know when you laugh so much that you do that silent doing it now. Must stop would hate to bust a gut and end up in hospital.

    You poor thing.....but your blog has made my day. Hilarious.

  42. --... get the hosptals to check for anyone else who's not eating their food and put them under *surveillance*--

    Too late, we're ALL under surveillance... :-/

  43. Ooo, multi-layered vendettas coming your way now, friend!!! The nurses will give you an ice-cold bed-bath, the sister will tip senakot into your tea and you may well get a get well soon visit from Our Glorious Unelected Prime Mentalist bringing you a gift of concussion from a flying Nokia.

    Now be a good boy and eat your semi-digested fly vom...

  44. Ask the director to bring some food in from a hospital in The Netherlands, "Elisabeth Gasthuis", it is great.

  45. Amazing dude.

    You've cheered up my birthday somewhat!

    Hope the recovery is speedy.

  46. Did you read this in the Telegraph today......

    A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Good quality food for patients improves their health and their overall experience of services. The majority of patients are satisfied with the food they receive in hospitals, and we are working to improve services further."

    The majority of patients are deemded to be satisfied probably because nobody cares. When I tried to comment or complain to the staff at Torbay Hospital about the food my dad was receiving just before he died in January nobody wanted to know.

    Love your blog it's hilarious.

  47. Oh, really terrible stuff! Please choin our canteens at Frankfurt Airport, esp. Terminal 1!

    You will find your food delicious and fine looking. Anyway, hope you can escape.

  48. I can't comment on other NHS hospitals, but the food seems similar to one I am a regular patient in - a bone hospital in Birmingham (I won't name it specifically!). Generic, thickening sauced mush is about as best as I can describe it. I'm a vegetarian too, so I get far less choices of mush than most patients. I survive on food brought in for me. Enough said.

  49. Enough about hospital food! Enough, I say! If the food's so bad, how come the cockroaches est it?

  50. Hugs and kisses from France TM - someone has picked up on your idea here:

    Nothing original to say, but hang on in there, get decent food brought in to you and keep on smiling - your blog is brightening my day.