clang! pow!

When Roy’s son-in-law Malcolm comes home it’s like a bull that’s learned to walk, striding proudly in the front door on his back legs: Arsenal cap, t-shirt, shorts.
‘All right?’ he says, tossing the cap to one side. ‘Who’ve we got here? The SAS?’
A light switches on in Roy’s face. The absence of his dementia suddenly doesn’t count for anything; instead, he’s a loving father welcoming home his favourite son.
‘Here’s Malcolm, Roy,’ says Steph, Roy’s daughter, Malcolm’s wife. Roy waves his stick in the air and makes a toothless welcome.
‘All right, pops!’ says Malcolm, throwing himself down in a chair, planting his arms and legs left and right. ‘What’s going on, then?’
I tell him what I’ve found, what I think we can do to help.
‘Yeah?’ says Malcolm. ‘I thought you’d be coming round with a big mallet. Clang! Pow!’
Roy laughs.
‘No, seriously. We appreciate you taking the time,’ says Malcolm, affecting a degree of seriousness. ‘I hope old whasisname there hasn’t been too much of a problem.’
‘Not at all. He’s a model patient.’
‘A model patient! Hear that, Roy? Mind you – no offence – but I think I’d rather have an actual model, if you don’t mind.’
Steph puts the kettle on.
‘Now don’t start,’ she says to Malcolm. ‘We’ve got enough problems without you sticking your oar in.’
‘That wasn’t my oar, love!’ he says, lacing his hands together in his lap and distributing his bonhomie about the place. ‘Is that an oar in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?’
He garks, like some giant species of bird.
‘Someone’s pleased with himself,’ says Steph.
‘If I’m not, who will be?’
‘You see what I’ve got to put up with?’
I finish my observations.
‘That’s all fine,’ I say. ‘I’ve just got to write it all up.’
‘A job’s not finished till the paperwork’s done,’ says Malcolm. ‘Hey?’
Malcolm watches Steph fuss around Roy for a while, then changes his position in the chair and chats to me.
‘I’m in a five-a-side football team,’ he says. ‘I bet you can’t guess who we played the other day?’
I look up.
‘Don’t know. One Direction?’
‘Who? Nah – there aren’t enough of them girls. No – we played that open prison.’
‘Really?’
‘Yeah! It was weird. I got sent off for a dodgy tackle and I thought they were going to put me in solitary.’
‘You should’ve played Holloway,’ says Steph, rinsing up some cups. ‘You’d have loved that.’
‘We’ve played quite a few prisons,’ he says, matter-of-factly.
‘Really? Why’s that? Are you in the business?
‘Me? No. I’m an electrician. I couldn’t really tell you why. You’d have to talk to the manager. We were at this one place, once. It was a really old prison, one of the oldest in the country. The man in charge, he says “See that block over there? That’s where they used to hang people”.’
‘Cheery conversation for your father in law,’ says Steph, coming in with a cloth and wiping Roy’s chin.
‘I’m just saying,’ says Malcolm. ‘It’s interesting, history.’
He leans forward and taps me on the knee. ‘Between you and me,’ he says, lowering his voice, ‘I’d rather that than all this malarkey.’ He makes the universal sign of the rope – a jerky motion off to the left – then nods at Roy and winks at me. ‘Know what I mean?’

2 thoughts on “clang! pow!

  1. Once a month I do a house call to a local care home to cut the hair of the gents in there.They’re all dementia/alzheimer’s patients.Some worse than others.

    To be honest Jim,I don’t know how the staff do it.Hence,perhaps,the gallows humour.

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  2. Absolutely. I rely on it.
    Speaking of which: Man being led out to the scaffold in the pouring rain.
    ‘Not very nice day, is it?’ says the condemned man.
    ‘It’s all right for you,’ says the executioner, ‘I’ve got to come back in this.’
    B’dum tish.
    I’m here till Thursday…

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