Car 1

Mrs Helen Bale

Outward appearance

Faded English rose. Unmade up, merry face, rather rural looking with pink cheeks, long nose, tiny mouth. Beige and black woolly scarf, thick sweater, gloves held to her wrists by cords. Home-knitted. She looks upward at something, smiling as if having seen the Light.

Inside information

A mature nursing student doing a study at St Thomas' Hospital into aspects of alternative medicine.

What she is doing or thinking

She is trying to decipher an Oranjboom ad. Along with Poetry on the Tube, they are the only objects of interest among the usual January package holiday ads. The joke is that the slogan looks Dutch, until you work it out.
Druifes u tooi
dis traag schone
dous ent et?

In the back of her mind, her study seems similarly disjointed. Helen has not been able to identify enough patients with similar conditions to be separated into control groups -- let alone to discount variables such as age and general health. She is in touch with an American hospital doing similar work, but they are suddenly being difficult about releasing their data. Perhaps they think she is a crank. Or just a nurse.

She tries sounding out the Oranjboom slogan without looking for meaning. It suddenly swims into focus.

Drives you to
doesn't it?

Helen smiles. Part of the joke is working so hard for an answer that means nothing. She is beginning to accept that her study may not work. Still smiling, she waits for others to pass before standing up to exit at Waterloo.

Not everyone will get it, says the punchline.

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