Geoffrey sits quietly in his armchair, hands left and right on the armrests, feet placed equidistant in large, knitted slippers. Even though the house is well heated, he’s wearing a ton of clothes – long-johns, patterned pyjamas, and a sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over a big furry cap, like he couldn’t decide whether to go up to bed or outside to hunt ducks. He stares straight ahead, at the empty armchair on the other side of the room.
His carer stands in the doorway. A tough-looking guy as solid as Geoffrey is frail, the carer has an unexpectedly soft voice. It’s a surprise when he talks, like having a convict press himself up against the bars, open his mouth and recite poetry.
He waves for me to come into the kitchen for a private word.
‘Ahm – Geoffrey said he felt dizzy his evening so I had to call you,’ he whispers. ‘Policy. I’m so sorry. What do you think? Is he going in?’
‘I don’t really know. Nothing’s showing up. It says in the notes he’s got a history of anxiety...’
‘Ye-es,’ says the carer, smiling sadly. ‘I’m afraid so. He’s had these episodes on and off for decades. His wife Agnes used to look after him, but then she passed a couple of months ago….’ He folds his enormous arms, tattooed with tribal patterns. Cancer he mouths. ‘Ever since then Geoffrey’s been at sixes and sevens. I don’t know what we’re going to do. His family are miles away. There’s only so much we can do.’
The carer goes to make Geoffrey a cup of tea and a jam sandwich whilst I complete the paperwork.
I go into the bedroom to fetch his blister pack of medication.
There are two single beds side by side, one with the covers thrown back and a stack of pillows, the other neatly made-up. Blu-tacked to the wall above the dresser is an ancient newspaper article – a middle-aged couple with a rosette at a flower show. I recognise Geoffrey. Even though he’s holding the rosette, he has the same set expression he’s wearing under his cap. Agnes is smiling though, her arm linked through his, her free hand resting proudly on top. And even though the picture has leached in the sunlight, and it’s difficult to make out much detail, you can still see quite clearly the flowers in the pot on the table in front of them. Exuberant red pom-poms. Dahlias, I think.
I go back into the sitting room to discuss the options.