The art of negotiating with French nurses

‘Ça va, Monsieur Clarke?’ said a nurse when he noticed I was stirring. It was an effort to speak. ‘Thirsty,’ I croaked. He handed me a graduated test tube containing exactly ten millilitres of warm water. Incredibly, the big clock on the wall said six in the evening. I’d been gone for eight hours. While I was gone, a surgeon had snipped 30 centimetres off my colon, plus a valve, and rejoined the ends. I’d never had an operation before and was surprised by the severity of the pain. I couldn’t move an inch in any direction. A porter wheeled me back to the single room with a view over