A clutch of Arab women in burkas surrounded the phone. One held out a scrap of paper with a local number on it and a handful of pound coins. They stared silently at him until he took the scrap, dialled the number and inadvertently fed in his last twenty pence piece.
Somebody barked at the other end and he handed the receiver across. The woman jabbed her handful of money at him so insistently that he made an embarrassed gesture, turned away and left the hospital.
He took the train home with a modest sense of moral wellbeing until his knee produced a twinge so violent that he grimaced with pain to the consternation of some children sitting opposite.