Sunday, September 01, 2013


Mr Ransom meets us at the door. A short, pink, elderly man in owlish specs and baggy trousers, he looks like Billy Bunter sixty years later, hiding away on the Witness Protection Programme.
‘She’s in the lounge. She just slid out of the chair, so she hasn’t hurt herself. I didn’t try getting her up myself because my back’s not good. Sorry about that.’
‘No worries.’
Mrs Ransom is lying on her back at the foot of an electric recliner, one hand on the radiator, one hand absently picking at the folds of her skirt.
‘She has dementia, so I’m afraid you won’t get much sense out of her.’
I check her over quickly but everything seems intact. She draws both legs up without being asked, and doesn’t wince when I press her hips. Mr Ransom looks over us as we work.
‘She was in hospital for three weeks with a wee infection, but they gave her the all clear and she came out a couple of days ago.’
‘And you’ve been coping okay at home?’
‘Oh yes. Fine. Carers four times a day.’
‘And she’s getting about all right?’
‘Oh yes. We’re well provided for.’
‘Excellent. Right. Let’s get you up, Mrs Ransom.’
There’s nothing to her, so we just go for an assisted stand. Unfortunately, when she’s upright, her withered legs remain bent.
‘Was she weight bearing earlier?’ I ask him, sweating a little.
‘Oh no. She hasn’t for a long while. We always use the hoist.’
Rae and I make it back to the chair in a kind of crab-shuffle with Mrs Ransom suspended between us.
‘There!’ I say, as we deposit her on the pads. ‘Easy. Now then. Let’s do some obs.’

Mr Ransom sits in the chair next to his wife, his hands folded across his belly and his glasses flashing in the late afternoon light.

Suddenly a wild, middle-aged man strides into the room, his tracksuit open to the navel, revealing a swart scrub of black hair and a half-dozen homemade tattoos. I half expect Mr Ransom to grab my arm and say Call the police! but he simply smiles and pushes his glasses back up his nose.
‘Hello!’ I say. The man ignores me.
‘Mum! Are you all right?’ he says, rushing up to her, grabbing her hand and pressing it to his lips.
‘Thirty-eight’ says Rae.
‘Thanks.’ I write the temperature down.
‘What’s that?’ says the man.
‘Her temperature. It’s a bit high.’
‘Is it because she’s been stacking doors?’
I laugh.
‘Yeah! That’ll do it!’ I say. But then something catches me. He’s frowning and shaking his head.
I’m driven to ask.
‘Sorry – what did you just say?’
‘Is it because she’s been stuck indoors?’ he says.
‘Oh! No – that won’t do it. It’s probably because she’s brewing another UTI.’
Rae has stood up and swapped places with the man now, so he’s partially obscured. All I can see is him resting his hands on his mum’s head in some respect.
‘Thirty-seven,’ he says.
‘What is?’
‘Her temperature. What should it be?’
‘Well – thirty-seven. But we got thirty-eight. Why - what are you using?’
From here I’m guessing it’s one of those strips you put on the forehead.
Rae moves aside so I can see.

‘My fingers,’ says the man, spreading them Spock-style around her face. ‘Thirty-seven.’


Sabine said...

So where was he in all his tracksuit glory when dad couldn't lift mum up by himself?

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Magic Fingers-perhaps we can order a set for our own use as well !~! Imagine if we never had to use a gadget to do obs again-maybe he's got blood pressure sensors in his toes. :)

Spence Kennedy said...

That's a good point, Sabine. I wouldn't mind betting that he was coming over on a visit and panicked when he saw the ambulance parked outside.

I wouldn't mind a set of magic fingers, Lynda. They might come in very handy (ahem).
Maybe he's the pub & bookie version of superman. He just chooses not to wear his pants over his tracksuit bottoms.

Daniel Rutter said...

O ye of little faith. He clearly has the temperature-perception equivalent of perfect pitch.

His unusual appearance is explained by the great commercial demand for Human Laboratory Instruments. If you can eyeball a star and say "that's 7.83 light-years away, plus or minus 0.03", then they don't make you wear a suit and tie!

Spence Kennedy said...

I've often relied on that - looking so scruffy you must be either a brilliant scientist or an eccentric billionaire.

I wish I'd taken a closer look at those tattoos, now. I assumed they were hula hula girls, flaming skull etc - but they were probably star maps & a pictorial mnemonic on how to find your very own higgs boson :/