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Generally speaking nurses have a bit of a rep for working hard, but they are equally fond of playing hard too, especially psych nurses. 'If you can't get a girlfriend, get a nurse' as the saying goes. The stresses of the job and the uniqueness of the situations which they find themselves in behind the closed doors of the wards, make for an interesting perspective on life.

Of course psychiatric nursing in particular takes the bizarre to new heights of normality. I suppose when insanity, violence and tragedy are the norm of one's working environment, then this eventually becomes the baseline for 'normality' and thus new heights of weirdness need to be sought out, just to get your kicks. It is with this background that I ruefully recount the following anecdote..

Now, when a chum or colleague (esp. male) is getting married, it's often considered the right thing to play some little trick on them, just to show how much you care. Typical scenarios include taking them out with the boys (and girls) and getting them so pissed that they don't turn up in time (if at all) for the marriage ceremony. Other jolly prenuptial japes include escorting them to a strip joint for a night of inebriated sleaze ("Well it's yer last night of freedom mate"), shoving a tub of axle grease down their pubes (garage mechanics take note), sticking them on a train to Glasgow or indeed, all three.

Dave was a popular senior nurse on our psychiatric unit. A quiet, unassuming fellow of gentle demeanour, Dave was a bit of a hippy to be sure, distinguished by his dry wit and wry perspectives on life. And he was getting married tomorrow..

I'm sure the idea was just to chuck him in the bath - an inductive privilege usually reserved for fledgling student nurses - or give him a traditional moistening with the fire hose. But, well I suppose the sense of occasion went to everybody's head and before anyone knew what was happening, Dave had been dragged outside by several staff members, stripped naked, tied to a tree, had a bottle of ink squirted over his privates and was being hosed down with a fire hose so powerful that it took two staff members to hold it on target. Honestly, the poor bugger looked like some bedraggled and forlorn Jesus figure. It was a bit spooky really.

I must say that he took it quite well and (eventually) managed to see the funny side. Something which can't be said for the hospital Administrator who called the ward the next day, demanding an explanation. I managed to convince him that it had all been my own idea. Perhaps my colleagues had all been under some sort of Machiavellian influence on my part. The boss acknowledged the tradition of the situation but suggested a more low key approach which didn't include crucifixion, in future.

Apparently it took 5 weeks for all the ink to come off..