When I set foot in the Old Man’s house, I was half-surprised not to see him, through the window that separates the sun-lounge and the living-room, sitting in his armchair.
Bert’s was closed, so I drove on to Salty Sally’s. The very fair-complexioned girl who served me was the only member of staff on view. I have seen her there once before. She sounds Dutch or Scandinavian or Eastern European.
I made my first visit to Eastwood Priory. It is a nine-mile journey from the Old Man’s house.
The Old Man was sitting in the lounge when I arrived. He did something that I cannot remember him doing: he took my hand in both of his, and kissed it.
The Old Man asked whether I had come by car, and when I told him yes, he replied:
“Good.” It became clear that he wanted me to give him a lift home. I explained that he was due to stay in Eastwood Priory for a while yet.
One of the male staff helped transfer the Old Man from his armchair to a wheelchair. Then the Old Man and I went to the café, and we talked — but I had to do most of the talking.
The Old Man told me that he wanted to go home “to England”.
The occupational therapist, Francesca, introduced herself to me. An hour later, while the Old Man took a nap, I had a discussion with her, in her office. She said that the Old Man had claimed to prefer living at Eastwood Priory to living at home. I clarified for her the layout of the Old Man’s house, and I confirmed that he had few social contacts. He had told her that he took a shower once a week. I diplomatically advised her that it had recently been more like once every several weeks: he was perfectly capable of using the shower, but getting him to do it was like pulling wisdom teeth. When I could persuade him into the shower-cubicle, he seemed to do a good job of showering.
On my return to the Old Man’s house, when I parked my car on the driveway, Mr JG was loading something into the boot of his car. He asked after the Old Man, and I explained the situation.
[Original posting 3 September 2011]