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I’m in this job ‘cos I like old people. Yeah, really. No, alright, not Mrs Thorndike, I’m not a saint, Jesus Christ, vile old bat.

Sorry. They did tell you you can’t swear round the residents? Yeah. Apparently there’ve been complaints. They ought to complain about Mr. Perks in number 4. Mouth like a sewer, mind to match. Nice old boy, but watch out for the hands. Randy bugger.

Sorry.

I’m supposed to take you through step by step. Watch one, do one, teach one, yeah? Number one: say ‘hello’. Number two, read the care plan. You okay so far? Alright, don’t take me ear off, most of you agency lot come straight off the transport from Africa. Last week none of ‘em had a word of fucking English between ‘em.

Sorry.

Let’s have a look, then. This one’s full care, can’t do nothing for himself, brain injury, cracked his skull open. Eh? Put up a good fight? Might have been a hover accident for all you know. Now, what you got to remember is, they weren’t always like they are now. Even if most of ‘em don’t know it’s Tuesday and can’t remember where the toilets are. Nearly always a bit left of what they was…who they was. You talk to that bit, just in case.

You’re supposed to use their names, only you can’t with this one. Officially, he’s got no name, not that we’re supposed to know. Hush-hush. There’s rumours, of course. I heard he had to move here after someone came for him in the middle of the night at his old place. Yeah, Poulton Manor. Did the manager tell you that? Well, that was a lucky guess, then. It’s halfway across county. Oh, you visited once. Co-incidence, eh? People believe what they want to – we had one girl in here, swore up and down he was a warlord and a murderer and we was all MI5 agents conspiring to hide him. Well, he doesn’t look like a murderer to me, what a thing to say. Manager had to send her back quick-sticks – caught her putting bleach in his tea. Complete fucking loony.

Sorry.

So, he needs bed change, shower with the tracking hoist and full body sling, dressed, shaved. You got computers running everything these days, but they still can’t do for old people and babies. You’re right, no substitute for flesh and blood. Everything off then, sir. That’s what we call him, ‘cos of the ‘no name’ job. Had one bloke in once, student, temp, kept calling him ‘brother’, bleating on about it being oppression of the workers calling anyone ‘sir’. Not that he knew the meaning of the word ‘work’. Idle bloody sod.

Sorry.

Don’t stare. We’ve all got privates, so named for a reason. It don’t all drop off once they get past eighty, you know. Hope he had fun with it when he was younger; only women touching him now just want to make sure it goes in the bottle right. No, he’s got no family at all, far as anyone knows. Tabassum, she was here before I was, said he only ever had visitors once. Americans, middle-aged couple and their daughter. Man had a biomech eye; state of the art, but you can always tell. Maybe the Yanks pay for him – all the fees are covered, no questions and it’s not cheap here. We have enough staff to feed everybody at every meal. Think I’m kidding? Look, I used to work at the social services place on Grid 29. Enough said. Bloody morgue. Alright, it’s not that fucking funny.

Sorry.

You have one sick sense of humour, girl. No, they haven’t been back since, that I know. It’s alright for you kids, you think you’re immortal. I’m serious, don’t take the piss. You can’t imagine ever getting this old, this helpless. Get past fifty: then you can. Yeah, I expect they did have other things to keep them occupied. Beg pardon? Why should they be dead necessarily, just ‘cos they don’t come no more? Morbid or what? Easy does it, arthritis all over the shop, even with the replacements. Just ‘cause he can’t say, don’t mean it don’t hurt. It’s the fit ones it gets, mostly. He had a busy life, a tough one, physical, like. Don’t see accountants and librarians with bodies like this. Second job? Yeah, well maybe so. Watching other people work? Ha, ha. Careful of that left shoulder. That’s seen most of the wear. Don’t know what he did with it, but the joint’s buggered to hell.

Sorry.

Who left the blind shut? Can you just…yeah, alright, point taken, leave it, best get on. Open it later, alright? Water OK? Right, under you go, sir, that’s it, chin up. Keep his mouth shut, will you? He likes this, you can tell. I think. Sometimes we sing, don’t we sir? Leastways, I do, ‘cos there’s nothing coming out of there any time soon. Poor bastard. Yeah, those scars are old. War wounds? Last time there was a war here was ninety years ago, don’t be daft. Well, if you want to get technical, yes, I s’pose there’s always a war somewhere. Winners can end up losers, of course they can. No need to look so bloody pleased about it. For fuck’s sake, he’s a person not a piece of meat, don’t bloody stare.

Sorry.

Cover him up, nice big towel, run the blower. Watch this, it’s harder than you’d think, unless you’re Consuela, ‘cos if she don’t shave every day, she ought to, heh. Put the mirror up where he can see himself, on the table. Watch this, now: keep the chin up, skin nice and tight, watch the lip and the corners on the jaw. Yeah, it’s interesting, innit, one of those double mirrors; turns on a stand, it’s his, an antique. Pay attention, though, you only get shown once, the mirror’s ok, leave it be, alright? See, hold the skin, round the corners carefu…What you say? Huh? Oh, shit, look at that. Get a wet cloth. Hurry up, stop standing around staring, you never seen no-one bleed before? Bring it over here. Blimey, you’ve got cold hands. You don’t eat enough, kids today. Stupid no-fat diets and whatnot. No wonder you’re so pale. Oh, Christ, he’s coughing up now, trying to talk, fat lot of good that’ll do, poor bastard, he’s all upset. Hold that there ‘til it stops. ‘S okay sir, she’s here to help. Shit.

Sorry.

You’re on again this evening, aren’t you? Well, I can’t babysit you; I got to see to my own mum and dad, save them ending up on Grid 29, fate worse than death. You can see to sir, just for undressing and putting down, can’t you? Pretty hard to get that wrong. Yeah, yeah, he’ll be fine by then, quiet as a lamb. Yeah, he’ll be expecting you, look, he’s looking right at you; that’s right, she’ll be along later, sir. This evening, that’s right. If he’s still twitchy there’s sedation, ask matron. Give him a good long sleep, he’s all yours. Wake up a new man? Not unless you’re looking for a miracle. Don’t mind him; I doubt he’s much fight left. Not for want of trying, eh? Jesus Christ, is that the time?

Sorry.

 

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