Fitting a convene over Geoffrey’s penis is like trying to roll a condom on the snout of some retiring and wildly hairy creature. I’ve used the hair guard – essentially a piece of gauze with a hole in the middle – but still, his wiry pubes get tangled in the sticky gel of the convene, and the whole thing’s a tragic mess.
‘I felt that,’ says Geoffrey.
‘You’re doing your best. Thanks for trying.’
I give up on this one, unpack another, and have a re-think.
The simple jobs always turn out to be the worst.
You couldn’t just swing by Geoffrey’s and sort his convene out?
I haven’t much experience, but working for a community health team means being prepared to turn your hand to most things, including ninety-year old penises.
‘One more go,’ I tell him.
The builders next door have their radio on full-blast. Kissin’ in the back row of the movies on a Saturday night with you…
I’d spent ten minutes at the hospital reading through the instructions that come with the convene. It seemed pretty straightforward, and I’d set out with every hope of success. Although, of course, I had it in mind that probably the real world experience of rolling on a convene might not tally exactly with the neatly labelled illustrations in the pamphlet.
Geoffrey lives at the very top of a narrow block of flats. He hasn’t been out for three years, spending all his time sitting in a riser-recliner with a view out over the city, one carer first thing in the morning to make sure he has some food and water, at least. Geoffrey has steadfastly refused any increase in care, and certainly has the mental capacity to make these decisions, even though anyone could see it’s not in his best interests. He’s doubly incontinent now, and really needs more regular pad changes. Still – he doesn’t want to spend the money, and he understands the consequences of his actions. And to be fair, he seems pretty happy. I’ve cleaned him up already, fetched him tea, and according to his very specific instructions, two slices of ham and four chocolate biscuits, all on the same plate.
‘What did you do before you retired?’ I say, as he eats a biscuit and watches me down below, wrestling with the convene, getting as tangled up in the coarse thicket of his pubes as the prince in the brambles round Sleeping Beauty’s castle (and, by the way, I’d like to put it on record, I think I’d have way more chance of success putting a convene on that).
‘Insurance!’ says Geoffrey, reaching for his tea. ‘Everyone needs insurance!’
‘That’s true. It’s an interesting business…’ although to be honest, I can’t think of a single thing to say on the subject.
Geoffrey comes to my rescue.
‘I was in the war,’ he says.
‘What was that like?’
‘Oh. You know,’ he says. ‘People try to shoot you. But what can you do?’