Monthly Archives: July 2012


18 days ago, my old Pa had a stroke so massive he was still having it 48 hours later; even though it was caught immediately by my Mum (‘He was mumbling in a monotone- I thought he was doing an impersonation of Andy Murray’); even though he had a clot-dispersing wotsit within 2 hours.

A stroke so big, it was almost the equivalent of a hemorrhage, accompanied by internal bleeding and swelling.

Yet yesterday he wolfed down the quails eggs I took him and coherently quizzed me about the status of the boys’ bank accounts.

Next week he’ll be discharged to rehabilitate for a few months at a hospital home before going back to his top-floor flat.

What is driving this man through survival?

Is it physical strength?

No. His body is not so much a temple, more ancient devil worship ruins. He is weak on his feet, nigh-on 17 stone, has diabetes, a leg ulcer, high blood pressure, a back rash and more.

Is it a lust for life?

No. He eschews hobbies, is unimpressed with the state of the world and is separated from his only true loves: food, alcohol, radio 4 and his family.

Is it faith?

No. There’s a Christian kernel in there somewhere but redemption is not on his mind. (‘There was a priest in here yesterday. I called over the nurse and said, ‘Jesus, this looks bad.”)

I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s humour- or more specifically taking the mick; a single-minded deliberation to observe the cretins surrounding him with the perspicacity he thinks they deserve.

A recognition that the chap opposite who puts his rubbish next to the bin every morning ‘should be putting himself out with it.’

A determination for the physiotherapist to understand (in the wake of a ‘Well done, Anthony’ patronisation) that when he tells her he’s ready for his rusk, he’s not being senile- he’s joking.

An assertion in the midst of being cleaned up down below, that he is, in fact, a member of Mensa.

A desire to restore some potency by asking- after he has been buttoned up by his carer- if he can un-button her in return (it’s more challenging, this impulse, but we’re working on it).

Ironically, funnier still is to see a staff for the most part untrained in seeing the individual behind the patient, make benevolent, misguided assumptions about this immobile old lump with the crooked smile in bed 6.

Nurse: There’s another man coming in today from the Navy.

Dad: Good for him.

Nurse: We thought you’d be pleased.

Dad: Sounds like a match made in Doctor Heaven.

Nurse: Don’t you want to meet him?

Dad: I’m here because I’m in bad shape, not for social discourse.

Nurse: He only wants to be friendly.

Dad: In the words of Alan Sugar, ‘If I wanted a friend, I’d get a dog.’


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adored by green parrots the colour of claret and rich and reflective and compact and round and flanked by green and teased with breezes not caring to be cared but self-revealing wildly in my garden which would otherwise be viewed by non-neglected gardens with a mixture of pity and disgust in the same way you look at obese children

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