Jamie Lenman: Why my new single is a personal pledge of thanks to the NHS

Jamie Lenman will be donating proceeds from his new single Hospital Tree to NHS Charities. Here, he details the important role the NHS has played in his own life, and why we need to show staff even more respect at this time of the year…

Jamie Lenman: Why my new single is a personal pledge of thanks to the NHS
Jen Hingley

“It won’t surprise you that I have problems with my ears – a quarter of a century playing heavy metal in pubs and clubs will do that. I went to get them tested once, and the technician showed me the graph that represented my hearing range. There was a big, noticeable dip in the middle, the size of the Grand Canyon, and I asked what it was. ‘That’s roughly the frequency of a snare drum,’ came the reply. So I have to pay regular visits to various hospitals and have them sorted out.

“On one such visit, it must have been December time, I sat in the cold waiting room surrounded by my fellow patients, with everyone looking and feeling thoroughly miserable. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little plastic Christmas tree, bound in thin tinsel, sat on a table next to a pile of antique magazines. It broke my heart.

“Nobody wants to be in hospital at Christmas. Not the patients, not the staff, no-one. When everyone else is chugging eggnog or photocopying their arses at the office party, they’re stuck in bed with a drip in their arm or mopping up some unutterable cocktail of bodily fluids. Accidents and illness don’t take the holidays off, so surgery and A&E are just as rammed as they always are – more, if anything – and all against a background of worsening conditions and rapidly diminishing resources. And yet someone, after an 18-hour shift pushing trolleys and changing bloods, somebody found a last morsel of energy to pull that tree out of the cupboard and set it up. Just to make everyone feel a little bit better, to shine the tiniest bit of light into an otherwise horrendous experience.

“That’s how much the NHS care about you. Nobody’s doing it for the money, nobody enjoys having actual shit thrown at them – they do it because they want to help you in any way they can. Nurses don’t want to strike, but many of them feel it’s their only option.

“I wrote my song Hospital Tree as a personal pledge of thanks to these people, the same ones that brought me into the world and patched me up along the way. I want them to know that I’ve noticed their efforts, and that it genuinely brightened my day. So maybe when you’re out celebrating this year, you might hold back on the bevvies just enough so you don’t end up hurting yourself and jamming up the accident and emergency. If you do come a cropper, though, rest assured you’ll be in good hands, and make sure you tip your hat to that shaggy old tree.”

Hospital Tree is out now, with all proceeds going to NHS Charities. Jamie Lenman’s new album The Atheist is released November 25 via Big Scary Monsters

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