Wednesday, October 12, 2011

getting about

When Geoffrey laughs – and he laughs a lot - he hangs it on the air in front of him like the cartoon of a man providing his own speech bubbles. If he were a cartoon, it would be something grimly ironic, an urban fairy tale about a ruined Santa retired from the trade through years of overwork and ill health, off his legs in a riser chair, his feathery beard plucked back to the stubbly butt of his chin, a cave of verminous yellow teeth, man boobs and a scurfy paunch spread above a giant nappy.
‘My father had no luck either. He used to hide his money in a little tin box he’d stick up inside the chimney. One day he came back unexpected and caught my mum with her hand up there. They had a fight and she pushed him backwards out the window. Three floors and that was that. Yur-hur-hur-hur.’
Geoffrey’s carer, as clipped and contained as his patient is exposed, puts some things together in a bag.
‘Now what else do you think you’ll need, Geoffrey?’
‘That clock,’ he says, pointing to an unfeasibly large alarm clock on the breakfast table. ‘ I want to take my clock with me. I want to know when my time’s up, yur-hur-hur-hur.’
‘Well you can’t very well take the clock, Geoffrey. There’ll be plenty of people around you can ask for the time. And I wouldn’t take your sticks, either. They’ll walk.’
‘I don’t mind,’ he says, contentedly draping his arms across his belly and linking his fingers in the middle like a gigantic buckle. ‘They can have it all as far as I’m concerned. I don’t need much.’
We managed to fit the trolley in the lift. I clear a space in the flat and Frank wheels it in from the corridor. He parks it alongside Geoffrey’s chair.
‘Whoa!’ he says. ‘Bloody ‘ell! Who ordered that?’
‘Your carriage awaits,’ I say, putting the back up and lowering the side.
‘You want me in that thing? You’ll be lucky, yur-hur-hur-hur.’
We fuss around him like elves.
‘Mind your language,’ says the carer. ‘And don’t forget, not everybody wants to hear your dreadful confessions.’
‘No? I haven’t even got started. Take my cousin, for instance...’
‘Please, spare us,’ says the carer.
‘ cousin did twenty years. His wife came home unexpectedly and found the next door neighbour roped to the bed and my cousin on top of him. Yur-hur-hur-hur.’
‘That’s one punch line I think I missed,’ says Frank, negotiating the head of the trolley through the doorway. ‘Thankfully. Think thin, mate,’ he says.
‘But I come from good stock,’ says Geoffrey happily. ‘Especially with regard to legs. I used to cycle everywhere, you know.’
‘How do you mean? Getting to work?’ I say, grunting with the effort of moving the trolley.
Geoffrey smiles at me.
‘France, Germany, Russia...’
‘...Belgium, Holland – and what’s that place just near Gibraltar?’
‘I don’t know. Spain?’
‘North Africa!’ he says. I used to love getting about on the old bike, yur-hur-hur-hur.’


Nari said...

...maybe he really is Santa.

Shopgirl said...

I loved the opening paragraph, the description of Geoffrey was simply priceless.

jacksofbuxton said...

Ha ha,what's that place near Gibraltar made me giggle.I'm sure the odd anecdote helps the day Spence,but I don't want to hear about his cousin either.

Spence said...

nari - if he is, I'm going to need a bigger chimney

shopgirl - thanks! Sometimes I worry that I'm not being particularly kind (but I do try to give an honest impression, though)

JoB - I have to admit I lightened that particular anecdote. The original was just too dreadful!

Cheers for the comments!