Agnes has been dumped at the plug-end of the bath by the sudden and catastrophic failure of her new hydraulic chair. Maggie, the carer, couldn’t possibly lift her out on her own, so she drained the water, helped Agnes’ straighten her legs as best she could around the taps, then, after covering Agnes with a few towels to keep her warm, called for help.
We try the remote control, but although the seat grinds and clonks, it stays in the down position.
‘Steady on’ says Agnes, looking alarmed.
There’s no room for the inflatable cushions, so we set about lifting her manually.
‘Let’s just move these towels so we can see what’s what,’ I tell Agnes, climbing up onto one side of the bath. Rae climbs up on the other, bracing herself against a strategically placed chair.
‘I don’t mind. We’re all made the same. Well, maybe not you, love, but honestly, I’m past caring.’
We roll up the largest towel and pass it underneath her arms, then, once we’ve helped place her feet as flat as she can get them back on the bottom of the bath, we take up the slack in the beach towel and ready ourselves.
Ready, set – lift!
Agnes paddles backwards with her feet and stands up.
After adjusting our positions, we help her lift her legs over the side of the bath.
Maggie puts a towel on the toilet seat. Agnes sits on it.
‘Blimey O’Reilly’ says Maggie, wrapping Agnes in a dressing gown.
‘I’m not using that thing again,’ says Agnes.
‘God, no. It’s an instrument of bleedin’ torture’ says Maggie.
Rae picks up the remote control and tries the up button again. This time the chair gives an obedient shiver, then begins to rise up with a powerful hydraulic hum. Two hinged wings either side of the seat slide up the enamelled sides of the bath, unfolding flat as the seat comes level with the edge, forming a wide platform.
‘So far, so good.’
‘You see, what’s supposed to happen is - I walk with my zimmer to the side there, then turn and sit on that seat,’ says Agnes. ‘Now see what happens when you lower it.’
‘Here we go’
Rae presses the down arrow. The chair immediately starts to sink, the sides gently folding up again. It reaches about halfway, when suddenly there’s a loud crack and the chair lurches forwards, as violently as a mechanised bucket tossing its cargo into a dumpster.
‘Blimey! Look at that!’
‘You poor thing!’
‘Maybe they sent you the wrong package’ says Rae, putting the remote control back in its holster. ‘Maybe this is for a water park.’