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Under the knife

Like a hungry litter vying for a teat, the team of surgeons crowded around their patient and jostled for space.

They were already fourteen hours into the operation. They worked on frenetically but their efforts were being buffeted by the awesome oceanic swell of pioneering surgery.

They palmed their instruments, clamping and coagulating, harmonising their efforts with desperate whispers. The patient's chest was ratcheted open and bristled with surgical steel.

Another course was brought to the table, another organ from another donor which was subsumed into the whole and quickly melted into the ravenous flesh. The air became rich with diathermy and burnt tissue. The patient's new limbs had been matched from other cadavers and at this stage they had been crudely sewn in place to keep them viable.

They were sculptors, resurrectionists, and flesh replaced marble. The hammer and chisels of the craftsman were exchanged for the endoscope, the rasp and the trocar.

Finally as the anaesthetic gases wore off, the patient flicked open his eyes and stirred into life. His lips and fingers, blue with cyanosis, and his eyes yellowed through with the cloying honey of jaundice.

He pushed away the surgeons. Their neat regiment of instruments clattered to the floor, and he pulled out his central line and made his way roughly through the theatre doors.

He staggered out into the corridor, un-coordinated and off balance. He bounced off a line of hospital trolleys and a passing nurse gasped in horror. She covered her mouth and scurried past, avoiding eye contact. His resurrection was complete.

Bastardised, cyanosed and jaundiced, British politics and the future of the NHS had never looked so unwell.

Through the K hole Through the K hole