Five o’clock in the morning, and the shift is two hours shy of never-ending. I’ve lost all my other faculties – I’m writing with a cheese string; talking through my arse - but I can still read a watch face. The actual time, though? That unaccountable spot in eternity where this poor little husk broke surface? You might as well say the Devonian period. Fish learning to walk. That feels about right. Climbing from a cab was never so fraught.
But Bette Davis is on the floor and someone has to get her up. Mr Davis, a great stern blancmange of a man, is waiting at the door.
‘Hello, I’m Spence, this is…’ but he turns away. He’s right. Come in. Pick the lady up. Leave. Why complicate things?
We follow him through a bizarre maze of rooms – any home would look like the Minotaur’s Labyrinth to me at the moment – into a reedy smelling den with a broad yellow divan and a lady crammed knees and arms into the far corner.
‘Get me up!’ she says, her mouth flapping.
‘How did you end up on the floor?’
‘Get me up!’
‘Have you hurt yourself?’
‘She’s fallen out of bed,’ says Mr Davis, steaming at my shoulder. ‘On the floor, there.’
‘Have you hurt yourself though, Bette?’
‘Get me up!’
‘Where do you want to go when we’ve got you up?’
Monte Carlo? SeaWorld? This bed looks fantastically comfortable…
‘She fell out of bed,’ says Mr Davis, then wanders back out to fetch something from the network of secret passages and catacombs.
‘Come on then, Bette. Let’s get you up.’
Just as we’re about to lift, I say: ‘Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.’
She stares at me.
Mr Davis wobbles back in with a blister pack and a towel, for some reason. I notice that the left side of the bed has a couple of thick white nylon ropes tied from a sidebar to a mahogany dressing table and the back of a thickly packed armchair. It makes that side of the bed look like the set of a crummy pirate movie.
‘What’s with the rigging?’ I ask him.
He dumps his load on the bed.
‘I’ve got to get up somehow,’ he sniffs, then wanders off again.
Bette Davis. Imagine that. We raise her up, put her back to bed.