As the 2012 Olympic mascots are unveiled, perhaps it's time the NHS got in on the act – Copperfield has a couple of suggestions
Wenlock and Mandeville are the newly unveiled twin mascots of the London 2012 Olympics. Intended to promote the Olympic ideals – Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger) – they are destined to appear on T-shirts and coffee mugs around the world. ‘Resting' actors will soon be stepping out in brightly coloured Wenlock and Mandeville outfits to scare the bejeezus out of innocent pre-school children.
If the design team really wanted to come up with something that would get kids' attention, why did they go to all the trouble and expense of producing a brand new pair of brightly coloured, metallic one-eyed aliens? Why didn't they just ask the BBC if they could borrow a couple of new-generation Daleks and have done with it? If you want to see kids run faster and climb higher simply turn up at your local playground in full Dr Who clobber yelling, ‘Run for your lives! The Daleks are coming!' and watch the buggers go.
For decades the NHS struggled on without so much as a logo. How hospitals and GP surgeries made it through the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties without an all-inclusive and motivational emblem on their headed notepaper I'll never know. Now I look at hospital discharge summaries, with their nonsensical computer-generated gobbledygook (‘Patient presented with discharge. Took own discharge. Discharged to GP follow-up'), clock the NHS lozenge in the corner with its forward-looking italicised capital letters and am reassured that only my beloved National Health Service could fabricate and distribute such steaming bullshit.
But what is a logo? A mere two-dimensional symbol. What the NHS needs now is a mascot. An inspirational figure like World Cup Willie, the world's first and arguably most successful sporting mascot. Something that informs the public, a mission statement in quasi-human form. A cartoon figure, perhaps, but one that conveys the true essence of today's NHS.
As the vogue seems to be for twosomes, allow me to present Nik and Nikki Noctor – the embodiments of future NHS care.
Note Nikki's caring, optimistic posture. The smile, the big doe eyes, her head tilted ever so slightly to one side. You may think of her as a nurse but no, she is so much more. Contrast her classical feminine beauty with Nik's powerful and vaguely homoerotic physique. A rippling torso that would grace any Soviet propaganda poster, a sneer of cold command and just enough of Sportacus's colour and vitality to appeal to the primary school market, which is where the real merchandising money is.
See how they wear their stethoscopes draped over their necks, just like real doctors on TV. See how their badges read ‘CONSULTANT' in bold, upper-case type.
Admire the clean lines of their green, short-sleeved tunics, an NHS crest adorning the left breast and each sleeve like the three lions on the England shirt. Their trousers are crisply tailored, with gleaming, box-fresh trainers completing their ensembles.
But look more closely – the stethoscopes around their necks are gaudy, cheap and nasty, cosmetic adornments worn for a deceitful purpose. The badge reading ‘CONSULTANT' has ‘nurse practitioner' engraved in tiny print beneath. And the trainers are probably fake. This, boys and girls, is the future of your NHS.
'Sick Notes' by Dr Tony Copperfield is out now, available from Monday Books.Copperfield