Adam Kay’s hilarious million copy selling first book, This is Going to Hurt, regaling his exploits as a doctor in a labour ward was always going to be hard to follow. Kay describes this second volume as being akin to a difficult second album. Using a similar format to his debut book he writes in diary format covering six festive periods which once again will delight readers with further anecdotes based on his experiences in hospital and the wide assortment of patients he encounters. Kay has that rare ability of being able to turn a sad situation into one of life’s funny moments, combining comedy with real-life tragedies which are always dealt with sympathetically.
He tells a story of how one New Year the hospital installed a new voice activated switchboard, unfortunately the system had been programmed to only recognise “absurdly snooty accents”. Kay sums up the ensuing mayhem by declaring that: “when you finally manage to get the switchboards satanic robot to understand a word you’ve said, it’s inevitably the wrong one. Today it would have been easier to get through to a radiologist with a couple of yoghurt pots and a piece of string.”
Kay has, with much regret, now left the medical world so Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas is written from a more poignant point of view with a deep respect for all NHS staff and the work they do. While still maintaining a high level of comedy there is a sadness that permeates the text which says more about the state of Kay’s mind than the conditions of working in the NHS. On the first Christmas he spent at home his partner asks if Kay misses working in hospital over Christmas? He laughs a little too hard before saying , ‘of course not!’ but they both know he does, he really really does.