I had to go to Addenbrookes Hospital AGAIN this morning. I might just as well move in on a permanent basis. I pretty well know all the medics there now. Even the pharmacy staff call me by my first name. When I go for radiotherapy or my weekly review, I never have to tell clinic receptionists my name. I get a cheery wave and a ‘Hello Duncan.’

There is something odd about Addenbrookes, though, even setting aside the sheer size of the place, and it is huge. Walk from one end to the other down the main corridor, it’s going to take you a good 10 to 15 minutes. Not to mention it’s on three levels, not including the service basement bits. It’s seriously big. But here’s the odd thing, the anomaly.

When I worked at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, you were never more than a couple of minutes from a pub. The clientele were mainly registrars out for a swift pint or G&T and, in the days when you could still smoke in pubs, a crafty snout or two. Same in Oldham Royal. There was a pub pretty much on every corner, and they weren’t having trouble with trade, I can tell you. Landlords and publicans know they’ve fallen on their feet if they get a gig near a hospital. Medics can really stick it away.

But there is not a single pub within striking distance of Addenbrookes. It’s unnatural. There’s a lot of clandestine fag smoking going on in this supposedly ‘smoke free zone,’ but there’s no way you can slope off for a quick heartstarter, because there aren’t any pubs or bars. Near a hospital? That flies in the face of nature.

Come to think of it, pubs are a bit thin on the ground in Cambridge full stop. Lots of ‘artisan brewhouses,’ whatever the fuck they are, but not many old fashioned drinkers. In a university town? That’s not natural either. In Norwich, where I went to university, you could go to a different pub every day for a year. But things are a bit more restricted in Cambridge.

Despite this, Cambridge is a bit deceptive. Outwardly quite polite and restrained, the place gets a bit raucous after dark. When it gets to chucking out time, all you can hear is shouting and copcar sirens. The city of Lincoln is like that. All gentility during the day, and Dodge City after dusk. It’s a madhouse that would shame even Newcastle. Norwich is a bit like that, too. Lots of medieval charm during the day, but hell does that place light up when the sun goes down.

But why no pubs near a hospital, especially one the size of Addenbrookes? Makes no sense, does it?