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DOCTOR! DOCTOR! (Chania Chatter 1)


‘Is there anyone on board who is either a doctor or a nurse or someone who has had any kind of medical training at all?’ Immediately overhead indicator lights go on up and down the plane! It would appear that Julia and I are the only people on board who are not medically trained?!

The day had started so well! Up at 3.30 a.m. so that we can leave the house at 4.00 a.m. in order to get to Gatwick to catch our plane to Chania in Crete for a two-week holiday in the sun. Straightforward drive, despite the wind and the rain, and no problem parking in the long-stay carpark and getting the shuttle to airport. We check in our cases and get through security easily and even manage to fit in a final full English breakfast before boarding our plane. We have great seats with plenty of legroom for me and a window seat for Julia and the plane taxis to the runway right on time. We are halfway through the compulsory talk on what to do if the plane crashes when proceedings are halted and the message is broadcast on the tannoy, ‘Is there anyone on board ….’

The young lady sitting on the other seat next to me turns to her boyfriend or brother (I am not sure which), who is sitting behind us, and says, ‘Could be a job for you, George?’ Apparently someone at the back of the plane is feeling unwell and wants to see a doctor. A steward comes down the aisle with a nice lady in tow, but she turns out to only be a nurse and so is immediately swapped for George who is a proper Doctor even though he looks about 18? Nursie decides to go along as well … she is a nursing sister and has obviously worked with Junior Doctors before. Everything comes to a halt for 45 minutes while Dr George and Nursie sort out said patient. It turns out that the poor man or lady – we never found out which – was feeling a bit nervous about flying and was worried about having a heart attack. Dr George eventually sorts everything out and reassures the patient, staff, and us passengers that the patient is o.k. to fly. He recommends food as medicine if the patient gets anxious again during the flight – apparently a packet of crisps works wonders in such cases?

We finally take off and the captain tells us that flight control have radioed ahead and we are going to take some short cuts so that we won’t be too far behind schedule? About 30 minutes into the flight the chief steward comes round with a form for Dr George to sign which basically says that Dr George is properly qualified and if anything does go seriously wrong with the patient … it is his fault?! When I comment on this to Dr George’s girlfriend or sister she says its just as well that she is a lawyer then? I tell her that Julia and I are both ‘ministers of religion’. She smiles and says, ‘Well, between us that’s every eventuality covered!’

We arrive at Chania airport only about 15 minutes late and get through customs with no problems. We find a taxi straight away – all the taxis are big Mercedes by the way which is a good job because the car accident rate in Crete is amongst the highest in Europe – and we speed off to find our apartment in Chania. Our taxi driver is very helpful and tells us all about what to see in Chania whilst we are here. He tells us that his name is George, gives us his card, and arranges to pick us up from our apartment in two weeks time when we are due to return to the UK.

We meet the owner of the apartment we are renting. His name is Nikos (thankfully not ‘George’).  We are on the top floor five stories up but the lift is not working (in fact it has never been installed) but Nikos grabs both our big cases and runs up the umpteen flights of stairs no problem. Julia and I stagger up the stairs and eventually arrive at our top floor apartment. And, by George … it is great. Just what we wanted – with wonderful views out across Chania old town, the harbour, and the sea. Just what the doctor ordered!

Jim Binney


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