Friday, February 27, 2015
Maude and the girls were all sleeping soundly. It was late last night and I sat on the sofa to focus on the exciting events of my day.
I dozed off.
I awoke in the glow of a blue screen. SKY had dozed off with me and was now on its standby menu. I was still wearing Maude’s glasses – I’d put them on earlier as a way of amusing everyone and trying to do the ‘funny thing’. I remember a Steve Martin appearance on David Letterman a few years ago. Martin came on and ostentatiously sat in the wrong chair before standing, sighing and saying:
"Always trying to do the funny thing..."
Maude wears the glasses for watching TV - so I thought I'd give them a go, to see the world through her eyes. Everything was a bit blurry. I jabbed at the SKY remote control and brought up a channel at the shady far end of the satellite spectrum. Tinny dance music crept into the room. I pushed the glasses down to the tip of my nose and peeped over them. All I could see on the screen was a large leather sofa. An unseen female voice recited a premium rate number, along with some salacious encouragement to call. Her tone trailed off with lack of interest and began to remind me of an announcement that might tell shoppers that a range of bakery items was ‘reduced to clear at the end of aisle 8’.
I sat up, decided that this channel was not for me and reached for the remote. Just as I was about to switch back to the safer territory of standby, three figures appeared and took to the sofa. Three women in little more than lingerie remnants and g-strings - which seemed more revealing than actual nudity.
Two of the women were soon talking animatedly into cordless phones and seemed to be interacting with indecent callers. Their conversations were accompanied by gyrations, lewd gestures directly to camera and carnal contact with the sofa's upholstery.
The 3rd woman, in contrast, looked bereft. She smiled nervously, gulped and adjusted her negligible negligee. She did not appear to have a caller and looked off-screen for some kind of guidance. I imagined an overweight and perspiring man in headphones urging her to carry on regardless. She turned back to face her public and began to brandish a rosette showing the number 3. I guessed that this number was added to the premium rate number flashing at the foot of the screen to speak to her directly and chivvy her on to some form of gyration to match that of her colleagues.
I wanted to call.
I wanted to call to say that everything would be alright and that there must be other ways to pay the bills.
I wanted to call to suggest that she now had enough ‘body art’ and should resist peer pressure and the temptation to get any more tattoos.
I wanted to call to say that the cushions didn't match the sofa.
I hit the information button to learn that I was watching the enigmatically named:
‘No Bra Time for Happy Hour Girls.’
The next feature on the channel was to be ‘Anal Housewives 2’.
I couldn’t possibly stay tuned – I hadn’t seen the first one.
Wednesday, February 04, 2015
‘Wake her up!’
‘She is awake, Dad.’
‘So she is. Is that her talking?’
‘Yes. She’s talking to Clarence.
‘She’s like her mother – she’d talk to a lamp-post.’
Bernadette was cheerfully engaging with the dementia patient in the bed opposite.
‘How are you doing Clarence?’
Clarence held his forehead in a very woeful attitude and then responded in a heavy West Indian accent:
‘Under pressure! I’m under pressure!’
The small ward was home to four elderly men all suffering from their own version of dementia:
My father - whose mind transported him to his 'Happy Place' (the pub) each day. He referred to the nurses as ‘barmaids’.
Austin, a second old Irishman, who frequently asked for whiskey but settled for a cup of tea.
Clarence who regaled his second wife with joyous memories of his first wife and then wondered why he felt 'under pressure'.
Sidney - who watched all activity like a hawk and claimed ownership of everything on the ward:
‘Hey, that’s mine!'
‘No it isn’t Sid.’
‘Yes, it fucking well is!’
Clarence was about to launch into an elaboration on his ‘pressure’ for Bernie's benefit, when my father intervened.
‘Give me the wallet now.'
Bernadette stood up slowly and processed to the bed – appropriate ceremony and solemnity for an appearance by the wallet. I was about to liken the wallet to something I had recently seen at Beamish Museum, but I stopped myself. Dad brought the battered pouch very close to his worn out eyes, surveyed its shape and rubbed its surface. My mother had been instructed by him to send the wallet in with two twenty pound notes in it and the thinking was that he was about to make cash gifts to my daughters. Bernadette was the nominated ‘keeper of the wallet’ for the day.
Dad removed a note. He shook it, pulled it and creased it a little to ensure that it was a single note. I thought he was about to do a magic trick. He then held it so closely over his eyes that it resembled a little mask. Bernadette hovered over the bed. Eventually Dad gave up on his attempt to see:
‘What is that one?’
‘It’s a twenty Dad.’
‘That’s mine!’ shouted Sidney.
Dad removed the second note from the wallet and went through the same routine. My mother had told me that he wanted to give some money to me for the girls.
‘And what’s that one?’
‘That’s a twenty as well Dad.’
‘Give that back!’ shouted Sid.
Bernie rolled her eyes and smiled at me.
Clarence distracted Sid for a minute or two.
‘Hey, you can have everything I have. It’s yours. I don’t need the pressure!’
Dad was waving the two notes in front of his face in one last check that neither of them was stuck to another note. He placed the original twenty into his mouth for a moment – like a cashier using that little clip on a till before giving change for a large note. He replaced the second note in the wallet and waved the wallet for Bernie’s attention.
Bernie took the wallet and processed back to her armchair.
Dad could hear that Bernie was back in place.
‘There,’ he said as he took the note from his mouth and handed it to me, ‘split that one. Ten each.’