a change to the routine

Ralph has two explosive tufts of silvery white hair springing out either side of his head. That, along with his downcast mouth and rapt expression make him look like a giant marmoset monkey – one that’s been in the wars a little lately, with a plaster cast on one arm and a dressing across the bridge of his nose.
‘I don’t remember nothing about it’ he says. ‘Mind you, I probably wouldn’t, would I?’
Ralph’s routine has been the same for the last twenty years: up at six, cup of tea and a slice of toast, off to the newsagent for the paper, back for another cup of tea and a study of the racing meets that day, off to the bookies for an hour or two, back for a nap and a bite to eat. The only variation yesterday was the bus that knocked him over.
‘It weren’t nothing to get excited about,’ says Ralph. ‘Just a glancing blow, like. So they tell me.’
It was enough for an overnight stay in hospital for observations, though, and a referral to us, post-discharge.
‘I’m fine. Honest. I can still get about. What time is it?’
‘Half-past five.’
‘Is it? Blimey! Where’d the day go?’
His daughter Janet is there, too. You can tell she’s his daughter. Not the hair, obviously, but the frank and warmly open way she looks at the whole situation. Despite her broad good humour and the obvious affection that exists between them, I can see it’s been a stressful few years.
‘I was at work,’ she says. ‘I knew nothing about it till I got a call from the hospital. Lucky he had his bookie’s loyalty card on him so they could do a bit of detective work. They scanned his head and everything, so it was just his arm and a few nicks and bumps. I think the bus come off worse, didn’t it, father?’
‘Hey?’ he says.
‘I said I think the bus come off worse.’
‘What bus?’ he says.

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