Newest Review: ... into it I couldn't put it down. There's no plot, it simply is Tom's jottings and thoughts on his important role. He has a very engagin... more
Blood, Sweat and Tea - Tom Reynolds
Member Name: chrisandmark
Blood, Sweat and Tea - Tom Reynolds
Date: 11/05/11, updated on 12/05/11 (47 review reads)
Advantages: Engaging, very witty and entertaining
Disadvantages: None at all!
As some of you know, I haven't read a 'proper' book since my son was born a couple of days before Chrimbo. He's the lightest sleeping baby I've ever come across, so I can't have even a lamp on in bed to read - a nightmare situation as over the years I've got into such a habit of reading when I go to bed, it was hellish to have to go straight to sleep. So I downloaded both Kindle and iBooks to my iPhone, determined not to start paying silly money for electronic books as I know I'll definitely go back to paperbacks as soon as possible.
I came across a few decent free books on Kindle, but turning my attention to iBooks I've found one of the best books (relatively speaking) I've read in a long time. Blood, Sweat and Tea is a highly entertaining read based on a blog written by a real-life member of the London Ambulance Service. Going under the pseudonym of Tom Reynolds, Brian Kellett gives a brilliant account of his experiences visiting the sick and malingering of Newham.
The 'chapters' (if you can call them that) are short and snappy, typical blog style but the entertaining way in which they're written just captured my attention from the very first few words. I hadn't really known what to expect when I opened the book, actually based on the cover I was expecting an American detective novel, but once I got into it I couldn't put it down.
There's no plot, it simply is Tom's jottings and thoughts on his important role. He has a very engaging personality and the kind of dry sense of humour that I love; he shows such a human side that I found myself falling a little bit in love with him. He's a no-nonsense kinda guy with no sympathy for alcoholics who have called him out for nosebleeds, but if there is something really 'wrong' with this same drunk then he'll get the same life-saving treatment as anyone else.
Tom is very self deprecating, he actually comes across a little egotistical to begin with but I soon realised this is probably his way of coping with both the regular death he sees and the internal politics within the NHS. Despite the humour in Blood, Sweat and Tea, there is a lot of seriousness in there too. How horrible it must be to go into a property and meet a seriously ill (but alive) person, only to have them die in front of your eyes minutes later even after you've tried your hardest to save their life.
In most cases discussed within the book there isn't enough personal information to really upset the reader (and anyway, most cases revolve around 'two year olds with a runny nose), but occasionally something specific has obviously upset Tom as he will launch into a diatribe about the case/situation/patient. One which stands out to me is a short piece about the death of an eight year old asthmatic, a passage reads:
"There are jobs that haunt you. This was one of them. Try calming down an 8-year-old girl who is dying [a frightening and painful death] in front of you because they can't breathe. Then try and forget about it. I did a cot death once, next to the cot was a full ashtray. Sure the parents are punished by the death of their child, but that doesn't help the child..."
That was part of a ranting post entitled Why I Hate Smoking Parents - which (as a smoking parent) did seem very judgemental until I realised that this man is entitled to be judgemental as he's the one who is,figuratively speaking, scraping these kids off the floor because their parents are too lazy and selfish to smoke outside. As I honestly ALWAYS do.
Thankfully there are too many lighthearted moments in Blood, Sweat and Tea to make these tragic tales turn it into anything like misery-lit. Tom doesn't dwell on the deaths he sees, his main issue with the public is that so many people call ambulances for pathetic reasons. I'm not the most sensible adult in the country, but how anyone can justify dialling 999 for a sore throat or swollen finger is beyond me!
One thing I would say is that if you're part of the PC Brigade you might find Tom's views a bit near to the knuckle. I live in Birmingham, I'm allowed to snigger at his comments about it usually being a seven year old girl translating for an entire Bangladeshi family - if you happen to be a Bangladeshi reader you might not find it so amusing. Newham is obviously very much like Birmingham, although Tom points out many times that despite his comments regarding the ethnic groups of London he is not a racist - he hates everyone equally. You couldn't do that job as a racist anyway, but he charmingly puts into words what many of us think but never get the outlet to actually say! Still, his comments may well upset the sensitive types (and you'll know if you're one of those or not!).
I could go on all day, but I won't. What I will say is that Blood, Sweat and Tea is an engaging and entertaining read, one that actually made me laugh out loud at times. This doesn't happen very often for me as I don't usually 'get' written humour, but Tom's dry delivery had me in stitches at plenty of points through the book. Thanks to the very short chapters it makes for a very easy read, I finished it in three days of intermittent reading and loved the way I could call the book up on iBooks and read a quick couple of anecdotes any time I had a free minute or two.
I highly recommend Blood, Sweat and Tea for anyone who is either interested in the inner workings of the London Ambulance Service or just wants to read a comical account of the medical misfortunes of the people of Newham.
Summary: A fabulous book which is based on the blog posts of a London Ambulance Service worker
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