buster the butler

Samuel has been given his diagnosis. The consultant told him all about it a couple of days ago, what the blood results indicated, how the chest x-ray illustrated with dreadful clarity the cancerous mass occupying a full third of his right lung and metastasising through his body, fully accounting for the shortness of breath, the sudden and rapid weight loss and the general, marked deterioration. When I arrive at the flat Samuel is sitting in a high-backed chair, staring straight ahead, his hands neutrally in his lap, whilst the family have gathered all around, arranged in height order on the sofa, a grandson perched on an armrest, another on a footstool, a son outside on the drive talking to a neighbour, a daughter-in-law in the kitchen, ferrying tea.
Samuel’s youngest grandson, Josh – a gigantic kid in a khaki gilet, looking as if his massive tattooed biceps have simply blown the arms off a normal jacket – waits a little self-consciously in the hallway with  Buster, a black French bulldog. Buster comes over to give me a sniff, then stares up at me with a mournful expression before turning and leading me through to the lounge. With his protuberant black eyes, large pointed ears and splash of white down his front, he looks like a diligent but slightly annoyed butler, hearing everything, seeing everything, doing his best to keep things in order whilst this extraordinary thing continues to unsettle the routine of the house.
‘Good boy, Buster,’ says Samuel, ‘Good boy.’ He reaches over the side of the chair to pat Buster’s head, who accepts it with a decorous sneeze, and then with one last glance at me, retreats back to the hall, and sits back down beside Josh.

2 thoughts on “buster the butler

  1. As always Jim your writing is great! I keep popping in to read your blog and it always entertains. Hope you’re well and the community is treating you well.

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    1. Fine thanks, Tim! It helps having a great team to work with – always amazed at how far they’re prepared to go, and how positive they manage to keep, despite difficult circumstances. The whole service is going through a big re-structuring process, so that’s adding to the stress (although I think it’ll be improved when the whole thing’s shaken out…).
      Hope all’s good with you, too. And cheers for the comment! 🙂

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