Something will have to be done about this
, I think to myself. The ringtone on my mobile is one that mimics a ‘real’ phone, the ones with the circular dials. This is to let people know that I am not a ‘prick’ whenever my phone rings, which is rarely.
It is however, quite alarming, as it was originally designed to be. When I was a child, a ringing phone was a thing of great importance, and not the tiresome everyday occurrence it is now.
The unexpected call is not helped by the fact that as it is a weekend, my phone is in the front pocket of my jeans and not the breast pocket of my suit. As such the ‘vibrate’ function that I am unable to turn off has an alarming effect upon my testicles.
It is 11.15pm. No one who knows me would dream of ringing me at this hour. And people who do not know me would not have my number. Something is badly wrong.
Nerves and testicles jangling, I fish the phone out of my pocket.‘Granddad’
informs the display.
My grandfather is 93, is 95% blind, the Parkinson’s and the arthritis are not doing him any favours and I am of the opinion that he is not phoning me for shits and giggles. He’s usually asleep by 9.00pm.
My nerves are no longer jangling but have formed some sort of jazz troupe.Me
: Hello? Granddad?Not Granddad At All
: This isn’t your Grandfather. I’m WPC Noname of Region Police Force.
I take this in for a split second. A police-type-person is on the phone to me. From the phone line of my Grandfathers home. This cannot be good. She is in his house. And he is not talking. This really isn’t good. In fact, it may be quite bad.
The jazz troupe throw in the towel and are replaced by some dreadful death-metal outfit that make it difficult for me to hear or think.WPC Noname:
I’m here with the fire brigade….
The death-metal dudes sling it as well and are replaced with a massive wall of white noise. I am reliably informed at this stage that I have turned rather white myself.Me:
[Very good in a crisis] Gargle wfhbfb.WPC N:
I said gargle grfrbjf.
36 hours later.Granddad
: Frankly, I’m glad they’re all gone.
He’s been beset with visitors since the fire, has enjoyed the fuss of the nurses at the General Hospital and is now getting a bit pissed off and fancies some time to himself.Granddad:
What I mean to say, it’s been grand to see you all, but all at once is a bit……Durham Cathedral really is quite something don’t you know. If you are by the river… I used to row by there… my university days you understand…..Me:
I know Granddad. I think you might have just said. I’ve bought plenty of milk……Granddad:
Lovely to see you all but just……Well. I woke up this morning and PEOPLE were already in my house. Dear me.Me:
We were just worried that’s all.Granddad
He pretends to get out a mop to clean the linoleum in the kitchen/snug area that is his only real home, secure in the knowledge that I won’t let him and will do it myself.Granddad:
Your sister usually dries it herself with a towel. On her hands and knees. It takes some time. Perhaps…
He didn’t spend the Second World War sat on a beach in the Seychelles or whatever beach resort (his words) he was stationed at perfecting his skills in the Catering Corps to be cleaning his own floors himself.
I mop up the soot from the earlier visits of my mother, brothers and sister. On my hands and knees.Me
: I must go. Is there anything else at all I can do?
I want to tell him how important he’s always been to me. What a tremendous failure I sometimes think I am, how bad I always feel, how I’ve let down every person important to me.
He has shirts he needs to iron for no occasion.
He opens the door to the living room for me.Granddad:
I’ll open the door but I can’t look myself.
He no longer has a living room.
He kept most things in there. He was a voracious reader before his eyesight went. As an art teacher he was a prolific artist himself. He was a traveller, a lover of music. Everything he loved and created was in that room.
It’s not there anymore.