Sunday 3 July 2011

Hospital Porters who Changed the World!

It’s not a commonly known fact, but Hospital Porters have help shape the world! In fact I reckon that the world would be an incredibly different place without us. I often think about the famous Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life (See: In this film James Stewart’s character is deeply depressed and about to commit suicide when an angel visits him and shows him what the world would be like if he had never existed; it is such an awful place that Stewart’s character realizes that his life is wonderful, hence the title, and regains the will to carry on with it. I've often felt I’d like to do the same with Hospital Porters. What would the world be like without us? Well firstly there’d be no hospitals or medical care of any kind. Doctors and nurses would be completely impotent and ineffectual. Hundreds of millions of people would die of preventable illnesses and as a result of injuries. But there are other differences too. The world would have had to get by without one of its most famous philosophers from one of the world’s foremost universities. A charismatic singer and songwriter would never have graced the stages of the world, inspiring and delighting millions. And the most famous science fiction film of all time would have flopped because it was absent its most loveable character. So let’s examine the contribution that our Noble Portering Profession has given to all our lives in more detail:

Jimmy Savile
Service: Broadmoor Hospital and the Leeds General Infirmary 1950-1960

Jimmy Savile has enjoyed a long and a healthy retirement from when he decided to step down from the Hospital Portering Service. He became a full-time disc-jockey and TV presenter, best known for hosting Top of the Pops which he did on-and-off from 1964 until 2006. His other main TV appearance was in the famous title role of Jim’ll Fix It. Between 1975 and 1994 this programme made viewers’ dreams come true, mostly children. He also enjoyed a long radio career with Radio Luxembourg and the BBC. He’s a great philanthropist and charity fund-raiser, regularly taking part in sponsored events. He’s very fit and athletic and many of these events involved him running in marathons of up mountains, even into his old age.
(Important addendum 10/11/13:

Peter Mayhew
Service: Kings College Hospital London- 1963-1976

Peter Mayhew must have entered civilian life with some trepidation. As he hung up his gas-spanner and walked out of the gates of Kings for the last time I can only guess what was going through his head! He wanted to be an actor, but the show business profession is incredibly competitive and with a height of 7 feet 3 inches he knew that there were only a limited number of parts he could play. It’s a wonder Kings had a uniform his size! But as luck would have it he got a job playing a Minotaur in one of the Sinbad movies and then his definitive role: Chewbacca in Star Wars. George Lucas was looking for two very tall actors to play both Chewie and Darth Vader. He picked David Prowse, “The Green Cross Code Man” to play the Sith lord and Mayhew to play the gentle giant Wookie pilot of Han Solo’s spaceship. Mayhew won an MTV Movie Award for this, even though nobody saw his real face until the ceremony. Today he is a welcome celebrity at Star Wars fan conventions and spends most of time touring all over the world to visit these events.

Ludwig Wittgenstein. Service: First period: Austrian Army field hospital- 1914-1918. Second period: Guys Hospital London- 1939-1945
This particular Porter is different from the others in that he came into Portering comparatively late in life after a successful civilian career. He was born in 1889 in Vienna, Austria which makes him by far the oldest in our Portering Hall of Fame. He was from one of the city’s richest families, one of the last of the ill-fated Austrian aristocracy. After the traumatic death of all three of his brothers to a suicide pact, Wittgenstein studied philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge and ended up as professor of philosophy where he made great friends with other famous philosophers like Bertrand Russell and GE Moore. Like myself, he was interested in language and how it applied meaning to the world. He spent his career studying it, changing his mind quite starkly several times; but he never lost the admiration of his readers and students. For a subject in which most participants are renowned for the quantity of their literary output, Wittgenstein wrote very little. Unlike his fellow philosophers who tend to pour out an epic doorstep of a book every 6 months or so, he only published two books, one posthumously; and a bare handful of papers. Nevertheless his ideas circulated widely and were extremely influential on later philosophical schools. I’m interested in philosophy, see: and I have a book about Wittgenstein: Culture and Value, see: How can I not read it and find out what my Extremely Proud and Dignified Brother Porter Ludwig thought about the world!?

Mick Jagger
Service: Unknown (Source:
I was pretty disappointed to find that Mick Jagger’s Wikipedia bio doesn’t mention his time in the Hospital Portering Service and portrays him as a life-long civilian. I hope he hasn’t had thoughts of the most misplaced shame possible! See: Mick Jagger is one of the most famous rock stars and music celebrities of all time. His turbulent lifestyle was almost a self-caricature, filled with drugs, wild parties and sexual hedonism. He was born in Kent in 1943 and at school first met his lifelong friend Keith Richards. Along with Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman and Brian Jones they set up the Rolling Stones, one of the most famous and definitive bands of the entire rock-‘n-roll era. Despite his reputation as the ultimate bon viveur Jagger is first and foremost a lyrical and musical genius and never lets his personal life get in the way of that. He has a rebel philosophy and was a hero of the 60’s counter-culture. His contribution to all human culture is a credit to the Hospital Portering Service; he truly is one of our favourite sons.

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Cabal said...

Well, time for us to make history and gain mention from next generations! You're close already, yet need to sign a lucrative deal with some Big Publishing Company, like let's say - HarperCollins. SELL YOUR SOUL! I COMMAND YOU! :-P

Meh, this guy who player Cheewbaca even without costume looks bit emm hairy :) And I think there's more famous porters, I'd bet on some other well known writer with hospital experience - I'll do research and let you know if i'll dig it.



Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Time, Bro Po. We've already made quite a bit of history. But then again, why stop now? However I doubt if HP or Penguin etc would take me on with the NEXT book I'm going to write! They might have done "Evan's" or "Rockall" eventually if I pressed them hard enough. I was not Conspiratorially-Aware when I wrote "Evan's", but I had a subsonscious intuitive urge that told me to self-publish.

Let me know what else you find out, mate.


Ben said...

Thank you for your article, pretty worthwhile material.

Algernon said...

Quite useful info, thank you for the article.

Unknown said...

Shame we had to have a paedophile like Jimmy Saville to dirty the name Porter.