The Co-ordinator warns me about Mary.
‘She gave the last nurse a hard time, complaining about everything.’
‘Yeah. I’ve met her before. She can be a bit grumpy sometimes.’
‘Grumpy! I like that! Grumpy!’
And she walks off laughing, a little too loudly, like I’d just described the Jabberwocky as a bit of a grouch.
Mary is sitting in front of a re-run of The Incredible Hulk, picking her way through a plate of coleslaw and beetroot.
‘And another thing,’ she says, spearing a hunk and waving it at me, ‘how am I supposed to get better if all you lot keep coming round and stopping me eating?’
‘Sorry to interrupt your lunch,’ I say, checking my watch. It’s half past three.
‘Not as sorry as me, mate’ she says, almost biting the fork in half, turning back to the television.
Bill Bixby is working as a medic at a rodeo. He’s taking time out to play poker with some cowboys. I wonder which one’s going to make him angry.
‘Anyway. What is it with you lot?’ says Mary. ‘You come round here, demanding this and that. Haven’t you got anything better to do? I’m sick to death of all these people traipsing through the flat, asking lots of stupid questions. And I tell you another thing for free. You’re not going to see my bottom. You don’t want to see my bottom, do you?’
‘There’s a reason for it….’
‘I ain’t going to show you nothing. I’ve got my dignity. I’m not here to be abused by the likes of you and your perverted interests.’
‘We have to check to make sure you’re not developing any pressure sores…’
‘Pressure sores my arse. How would you like it if I asked to look at your bottom?’
‘Well, if it was clinically necessary I wouldn’t have a problem.’
‘Oh wouldn’t you? Well I’m not letting you anyway near, so you can cross that one off your list.’
‘Fair enough. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.’
‘Then why d’you keep asking? I only had my blood pressure done last month. If you’re interested, why don’t you go and ask my doctor? He’ll tell you.’
‘I think it was your doctor who referred you…’
‘Did he? Well I’m not surprised. He’s only bothered because he don’t want to get sued.’
‘I don’t think that’s true.’
‘Oh? So now you know more than me? Well I bow to your superior knowledge, your lordship. Everyone coming round here getting on my nerves. And what about these so-called carers? They can’t do me a meal. I asked if they’d peel me a few spuds and make a pie, but of course no, no! They ain’t got the time! They just want to heat up those microwave dinners. I wouldn’t give ‘em to a dog. A bit of toast in the morning? Sorry – you’ll have to make it yourself. Carers! Lazy, that’s what they are. There’s precious little care there, mate.’
‘I’m sorry you feel like that, Mary.’
‘You’re not sorry. You’re just like the rest of them. You’re only worried about your figures and your little tick boxes.’
‘That’s not true.’
‘Not true? Oh – excuse me for having an opinion.’
She puts her plate down and roughly wipes her chin with some kitchen towel.
Bill Bixby is driving in his pick-up truck, glancing anxiously at a wagon that’s speeding up behind him. He’s going to change soon I think. He’ll be smashing things up in a minute.
‘Well go on then,’ says Mary.
‘Go on what?’
‘Do my blood pressure if you’re going to. But I tell you something for nothing. It’s going to be through the bleedin’ roof.’