Not a good day. I’m still down in sunny Kent and I believe there is something going on called an election about which I couldn’t give a shit because my mother is still very ill, and not getting better. Although I did bark with laughter when I read that David Cameron had said: ‘Every time I go to Afghanistan or Iraq I’m blown away . . .’ It was also funny when he was doing his Man of the People bit and went to see the fishmongers whose livelihoods he will no doubt ruin if he gets into power, followed by a school where the first comment by one of the kids was: ‘You smell of fish.’ Oh and the description of him having a face like a single buttock with two eyes stamped on was highly amusing too.
In the middle of all this guffawing at Dave, I went to the local hospital where mum’s jewellery had been left behind (she’s now in Canterbury Hospital) and they asked me to sign a form reclaiming her stuff. At the top of the form it read: Relationship to Deceased. I winced. Matron looked apologetic. ‘I’m sorry it’s the only time it’s mentioned.’ I looked down the form: Name of Deceased, Relationship to Deceased, Cause of Death.
After I’d claimed the belongings of my still alive mother, dad, my sister and I drove to the hospital. Mum was lying still, milk white, her bottom dentures out. ‘Ooh she ate a good dinner!’ said the physiotherapist and added ‘bless her heart’ for good measure. ‘Doesn’t look her age does she?’ My sister looked like she wanted to punch her. Perhaps mum was pretending sleep to avoid this well meaning but asinine drivel? The physio went off beaming and my sister pointed out that it’s possible to have a good appetite when you’re practically brain dead.
Dad promptly went off to get us tea – too overwrought to engage. Mum stayed asleep.
Then we noticed that mum’s fingers and hands were encrusted with what looked like brown cake but turned out not to be. The nursing staff didn’t seem too bothered so my sister and I scrubbed and disinfected her hands before talking about whether we should make an official complaint and if that might affect mum’s care. Instead I marched off and tried to find a doctor. Nobody to be found.
The next day they told us that mum had contracted a urinary infection – 'very common when you have a catheter'. Probably quite common if you get shit all over your hands too. But a doctor was around and to be fair, very busy so I pinned him down for an appointment tomorrow – hopefully one fluff and bullshit free.
Drove home today feeling very glum. Then I noticed a young student marching down the road wearing a Nazi storm trooper leather coat, Tomorrow Belongs to Me shorts, ankle socks and a pork pie hat. He was singing ‘Are you Going to Scarborough Fair’ off-key. We all looked at him.
‘I suppose that’s what the students are wearing these days’ I said in the silence.
‘Yeah’ said dad, ‘The same ould utter shite that you two wore.’ My sister and I looked at each other remembering the spray on jeans and Axl Rose tribute hair.
‘Still’ said dad, in the words of Brendan Behan, ‘every dog has his own vomit.’
And on that philosophical note I’m off to watch the election.