REVIEW: Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

In brief: Christmas, working in a hospital. What could possibly happen?

The good: Funny, sad and all of the things you expect from Adam Kay.

The not-so-good: A fast read.

Why I chose it: Thank you to Pan Macmillan for the copy, I love Adam Kay’s books.

Year: 2019

Pages: 143

Publisher: Picador (Pan Macmillan)

Setting: The NHS hospitals of England

Rating: 9 out of 10

Like thousands of other readers, I laughed and cried my way through Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt. I wanted more – more laughs, more crazy stories and more OMG moments interspersed with the full range of human emotional experience. Thankfully we now have more in this slim hardcover, which is the perfect size for a stocking or to fit in your pocket to read on the same to work as you steel yourself for working the festive season.

Like the name suggests, this book is full of Adam’s experiences of working as a doctor in England’s NHS hospitals in the lead up and during the Christmas/New Year period. The poor guy gets more than his fair share of Christmas Day shifts, which are known for their sadness, odd presentations, funny situations, occasional boredom from not being the usual frantically busy and for subsisting on nothing but chocolate for an entire shift. Fortunately for us, lots of work means lots of good stories. Kay never sugar-coats his stories, with some being incredibly sad and others…well, I don’t know how he kept a straight face. (It seems that there is no end of things that people will stick in orifices in search of a good time). It also demonstrates the danger of wearing a singing tie when delivering bad news.

I think Adam Kay balances the funny and sad very well in Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas. I also like that his diaries are a realistic look at life in a hospital, warts and all. It demonstrates the effect of low stock, low money, fewer staff and how the staff try their best no matter what. As Kay says, sometimes all the job gives is a warm glow – not money, not shifts that end on time – but the feeling of helping people. If you have a family member who works in the hospital system (NHS or not), they will love this book and understand exactly what Adam says. To everyone else, it’s a bloody great read for Christmas Day afternoon. (You will just keep the rest of the family awake from your laughter).

As a final mention – please, if you are anaphylactic to a food item, you are anaphylactic across your whole body. Please don’t use the Christmas period to experiment.

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

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  1. This book sounds as though it will be very entertaining. I can imagine how distressing it would be to be a patient in hospital at Christmas, for them and the family. Also staff working could go from fun to sadness in a mere moment.

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