Since the deaths of Enid Whiner and Horace Halfpenny, the East Central desk has been somewhat short of regulars. We only really have two, a crazy pensioner who consistently tells us she’s had a fall and then shouts at the ambulance crew when they have the temerity to turn up at her flat, and a nasty psychopathic drug user who calls from phone boxes telling us about his nuclear weapons and occasionally dribbles on Tom Reynolds’ uniform. Today, however, saw the return of one very regular regular, one I had never hoped to hear from again.

Back in my call taking days, the ambulance service was absolutely terrorised by one very persistent individual, who would make call after call after call, mostly to the same fictitious address in Bethnal Green, and occasionally (just for a change) to Gatwick Airport. The diagnosis was always a variation on one of three themes: offering or requesting a banana; telling us about his itchy penis; requesting help because someone had collapsed due to dizziness (often on the airport runway). It is not an exaggeration to say this man made thousands of calls or that every single call taker had been driven to distraction by him. However, in August last year, the police finally caught up with him, and to everyone’s relief, the calls stopped. It emerged that he was a disabled teenager, and for this reason the police went easy on him, and I heard Social Services had tried to show him the error of his ways and arranged a visit to Ambulance Control to show him what we do. (Personally, I am not sure this last bit was a good idea. There are a few people in Control who would have had difficulty maintaining a polite demeanour if they had known who he was).

Anyway, today – a busy Friday afternoon – I was sitting in front of a screenful of calls of varying seriousness and wondering how I was going to cover the lot of them with two cars, a green truck and a push bike, when a familiar address in Bethnal Green popped up.

“Good god no!” I exclaimed. “It can’t be… it is… NO!”

“What??” said G from the radio, thinking something important had happened.

“It’s…. HIM! BANANA MAN!” I howled.

“NOOOOOOOO” said G, and everyone else within earshot. They were all traumatised by Banana Incidents from the call taking days, too.

I’ll tell you one thing, though – now I’m an allocator on the East Central Desk, there is NO WAY I am going to allow Banana Man to resume his reign of terror. I am NOT having him jeopardising the safety of my patients and I am not having my ambulance crews running around on wild goose chases after his dizzy itchy runway banana! I have started a log of all of his hoax calls (there were eight this afternoon) and I will be passing it on to Management, the police, the local greengrocer and air traffic control. Banana Man will be stopped! No bananas on my manor!