Mr Grayling is stuck on the toilet. Although, given his gargantuan size, it might be more accurate to say the toilet is stuck on him.
‘I found him like this on my morning round,’ says the scheme manager, a thin man in a trim black suit and goatee. ‘I don’t think he’s all that well.’
‘Mr Grayling? Mr Grayling?’
He nods his head up and opens his eyes.
‘Get me up!’ he says.
‘We will, just as soon as we can. We’ll get our trolley right up alongside you, but you’re going to have to help us, because obviously we can’t lift you.’
‘Get me up!’
Rae goes to fetch the trolley.
With the manager’s help I move as much stuff out of the bathroom as I can. The gate to the walk-in shower opens both sides to accommodate Mr Grayling’s size, a fact which works to our advantage, as it gives us more headroom for the trolley. Environmentally it seems as if we have just enough space to do the transfer, but given Mr Grayling’s bulk, it’s going to be a close-run thing.
‘We’ll try it once ourselves, but failing that we’ll have to call in the cavalry.’
‘Of course,’ says the manager, narrowing his eyes to emphasise the delicacy of the situation. ‘Meanwhile, should I gather his medications and things together?’
He gives his a little nod of his head, then moves quietly away in the direction of the kitchen.
After Rae has returned and we’ve positioned the trolley as best we can, the first stage is to take off Mr Grayling’s trousers, a trip hazard, looped around his ankles along with his pants. Luckily the trousers have enough flare to slip over his swollen feet, and I pass them over to the manager who delicately puts them in a bag.
‘Stage One, complete,’ I say to Mr Grayling, wiping my forehead with the back of my gloved hand. ‘We’ll pull your pants up when you’re on your feet. We’ll come either side and give you a little boost, but your job is to take your weight, and then make as much a turn to the right as you can and sit on the trolley.’
I look at Rae.
‘When we’ve got him sat down I’ll help him lie back and hopefully the momentum of that will carry his legs up enough to roll onto the trolley.’
‘I’m not convinced,’ she says.
‘Me neither, but it’s worth a shot. If not, we’ll get on the radio.’
‘Get me up!’ says Mr Grayling.
‘Okay, then. Here we go.’
He does manage to take his weight, and after we’ve pulled his drawers up, a couple of tottering steps. I guide him onto the trolley. When he sits, the whole thing creaks and sags alarmingly.
He flaps his arms about in alarm, but the movement does allow us to get his legs up. Once he’s lying on the trolley we haul him out into the corridor. With a little more room to move, we untuck the trolley sheet, slide him into a better position, then together raise the back.
‘Well done,’ purrs the manager.
‘Thanks for your help,’ I say.
‘You’re very welcome.’And if he dropped down on all fours and started rubbing himself around my legs – well, actually, I wouldn’t be all that surprised.