If President Obama is thinking about bringing a delegation of wavering voters to see what a world-renowned, NHS tertiary referral hospital looks like, he had better make very sure his aides do their research thoroughly. American visitors to this particular centre of excellence might feel that there has been a terrible mistake as they negotiate the puddles and potholes, the pavements too narrow for wheelchairs and the signs which lead them ever further into the undergrowth. Those in wheelchairs will gaze up at the steep, uneven slope – off which lead all the wards – and feel very afraid. Only the most fearless and fit will attempt the ascent. Others, less brave, will retreat to the peaceful periphery of the site where nature is gradually reclaiming the hospital. Only D’Angelo, Bodie and Wallace, sitting out here on a sofa, enjoying the spring sunshine, are missing from this bucolic scene.
There is something so very English about this place, almost as though it exists to illustrate any number of aphorisms: beauty is only skin deep; you can’t judge a leopard by its spots; beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or as a metaphor for the quaint eccentricity of the impoverished English aristocracy, sitting it out in their cold, crumbling mansions doing the The Times crossword by candlelight to save electricity. The Republicans need to get their act together quickly if they want to use this image for their purposes. I hear plans for a brand new hospital have finally been approved.