I’m wondering if my reflections on my UCH experience in A&E might be relevant to your project having just looked at your website.

Arendt talks of the ‘paradoxical task’ and power that men (meaning everyone?) have to make new beginnings because they are in themselves new beginnings (On Revolution 2016 p.213).

This seems to link in with the concept of nomadism.

In my observations through the evening, night and early morning at A&E and subsequently visiting my wife at UCH on the couple of days after it did occur to me that a large proportion of the staff and patients were predominantly female and had themselves travelled great journeys from many different countries to find themselves together in that environment.

Nurses had stories to tell of leaving families in their own countries to seek employment in the UK and some of those seeking treatment equally had stories to tell. It was amazing that given the sometimes very limited English of both professionals and patients they all somehow navigated the system.

During the long twilight and early hours in A&E we became on nodding terms with others in a similar plight as we pushed our loved ones temporarily confined in wheel chairs to x-rays, consultations, toilet visits, etc. etc. Back and forth and up and down some trailing their young family’s or men folk behind them.

When my wife was finally admitted to a ward of four beds it was with our fellow wheel chair compatriots, we had criss-crossed similar paths the previous evening and twilight hours.

One woman was Egyptian with limited English and despite being nil by mouth for over 24hours (in case she needed an op) was unceremoniously visited during the day by two ‘suits’ who produced a large street map of (Alexandria ?) and quizzed her at length about the details of the neighbourhood etc.

Another woman was Cypriot trying often unsuccessfully to communicate about her symptoms. Despite the difficulties in communication I noticed that there seemed to be a sort of ‘sisterhood’ of mutual help and support that developed between the other women and my wife. (Something that I never noticed or experienced when I was in hospital a few years back in a men’s ward). It made me wonder if (in my limited experience !) that the concept of nomadism was something that was uniquely gendered in the different ways in which men and women experienced the whole refugee thing. I was struck by how the women easily and quickly related to each other and helped each other in the face of adversity whereas men always seem to be much more wary of each other.

It struck me that this business of navigating and crossing cultural and economic boundaries was inherently stressful and fraught with lots of anxiety but wonder if the experiences of women banding together made it a very different one.

The resilience of these women seemed remarkable given their obvious stress of coping with their own medical problems, lack of English and against an institutional bureaucratic background of the hospital trying to move them on and free up beds as quickly as possible so as to be able to admit others. (Graham Robertson, November 2018)