a tumbleweed of barbed wire

If I was a comic I’d be dying on my arse. In a tiny, Thirties-themed, immaculately hoovered comedy club. Three people in the audience, two of them arms folded, stony faced, one of them smiling (the one with dementia).
It’s bracing, to say the least.

‘I’m not wearing a bra’ says the elderly woman.
‘That’s alright. Neither am I’
Tumbleweed.
‘Who are you again?’ says the son.

I’d been expecting an easier gig. I’d rung the first listed next of kin, a daughter called Louise. She’d been so chatty and friendly on the phone – sorry she wouldn’t be able to make it down today, she was caught up at the stables… not in a bad way… horses? who’d have them…. that kind of thing… but it was okay… her brother and sister in law would be over to meet me… thanks for ringing… thanks for everything, and so on.

Walking into the house was like walking into a wall. Made of ice.
‘So – what are you?’ says the son.
‘A nursing assistant.’
Assistant?’
‘Yes. Well – my official title is Assistant Practitioner. But everyone just thinks that means I’m a doctor. So I never call myself that – unless I’m ringing a surgery, in which case it helps get past the receptionist.’
Another tumbleweed. Probably the same one.
I can feel myself starting to sweat, even though the room is actually pretty cold.
‘Are you registered?’ he says.
‘No. But I’ve got a lot of experience, and the rest of the team are just a phone call away.’
‘I see.’
(I wish I was a phone call away. At the very least.)
‘What team?’ he says.
I describe the make-up of the response team. It sounds inauthentic, like I’m reading off an autocue.

I’m not sure which of them is tougher, the son or the daughter-in-law. It’s not good cop / bad cop. It’s bad cop / awful cop. I have a giddy, out of body experience, where my temporal body carries on talking, but my ghost unplugs, drifts over, raps on their foreheads, and finds – to no great surprise – they’re actually made of tin.

‘…so, we get referrals from the GP, the hospital or the ambulance, and we go in and annoy the hell out of people in the cause of making sure the patient is safe to be left at home.’
A tumbleweed the size of a small planet. I wish I could jump inside and roll away, like one of those big, plastic balls. Zorbing, is it? Geo Balls?

They’re staring at me.

I try to shake myself out of my funk and focus on the patient instead. That’s who I’m here for, after all. I have no idea why they’re being so hostile. It could be any number of reasons – they’re stressed to the gunnels about something, they’re annoyed they had to come out here instead of Louise, they’re angry with each other and taking it out on me, they’re terribly shy and it just reads as defensive – but frankly, I’m here for the patient, and anyway, she’s much warmer and more fun than they are.
I go through the usual routine of taking blood pressure and so on. I use all my best lines. The patient likes it, but Mr and Mrs Medusa just glare at me from the sofa.
‘I just need to take your hearing aid out so I can do your temperature,’ I tell the patient.
The son stands up.
‘Let me do it,’ he says. ‘They cost two thousand pounds.’
‘Thanks,’ I say. ‘I’m scared of those things.’
His wife snorts.
‘Don’t let him any where near them,’ she says, meaning her husband, thank god. ‘He left his in when he went for a swim in the sea.’
‘Oof!’ I say. ‘Apart from that – how was the holiday?’

A tumbleweed of barbed wire.

get it right

Mrs Heywood is ninety-seven but looks older. She’s lying in bed tucked up to her chin, hands gripping the quilt either side of her face, blinking anxiously and rapidly, like an ancient dormouse in a converted matchbox in an illustration by Beatrix Potter.
‘Please help me,’ she squeaks. ‘Phillip hasn’t been in. I can’t remember the last time Phillip was in. Not the carers, not anyone. Please help me.’

I might be worried – if I hadn’t passed the carers on the front door, just leaving, and if the carers hadn’t told me that Phillip had been in that morning and was due back at lunchtime. And even without those things, I would still have guessed Mrs Heywood was mistaken about things, by the warm mug of tea, cup of fresh water and plate of bourbon biscuits on the trolley by the bed, the newly-ordered and spotless shine of the commode, the neatly folded clothes on the armchair, the general air of everything having been done.
‘Don’t worry, Mrs Heywood. I’ll do your blood pressure and what have you, make sure you’re alright, then I’ll call Phillip and we can have a chat about things. How does that sound?’
‘I’m terribly ill,’ she says. ‘No-one’s been in.’
She’s so thin, I have to change the cuff for an infant size. Despite her frailty, though, all her observations are good.
‘Let me write it down before I forget,’ I say.
Mrs Heywood pulls the quilt more tightly about her, frowning and pouting, like a child who’d been put to bed for no reason, and I was writing a letter to the teacher or something.

Flipping through the folder I notice that her surname has been spelled in two ways – Heywood and Hayward. I ask her which is right. She levers herself up on both elbows, lowers her chin and fixes me with a severe expression: ‘It’s Heywood!’ she says. ‘H-E-Y-W-double O-D!’ Then, after a pause to satisfy herself I’ve received the information, she carefully lowers herself flat again, and draws the quilt back up to her chin.

Just then the front door opens and a man’s voice says: ‘Hello? Mum?’
‘Phillip!’ says Mrs Heywood, sitting up again.

A second later and Phillip clumps into the room. He’s a heavy, hearty-looking man in his mid-sixties, with a chin so square and scrubby he could kneel down and sand the floor with it. As he stands there looming over us in his vast fluorescent yellow tabard, dusty combat trousers and beaten Caterpillar boots – it’s impossible to think of Mrs Heywood ever giving birth to such a figure. We shake hands, mine getting lost in his hefty builder’s paws, calloused and capable, a grip that could dent a pipe.
‘I tried ringing you before I came but it just went to voicemail,’ I tell him, in case he’s cross I’m here without him.
‘Yeah – sorry about that,’ he says, swiping off his beanie and scratching his head. ‘I got the message, but reception’s terrible. Anyway – I was only working round the corner so I thought I’d pop in and catch you.’

After we’ve settled his mum we go into the kitchen to chat. His demeanour rumples a little when he talks about their situation. His dad died a couple of years ago, it hit his mum hard, her dementia’s getting worse. She’s got carers four times a day and Phillip comes in as often as he can, but he doesn’t think it’s enough. She’s up and down, often unhappy, doesn’t remember things. It’s becoming dangerous.
‘She’s had a few falls,’ he says. ‘The only reason she hasn’t hurt herself is ‘cos she’s so light it’s like dropping a feather. Thing is, all this time she’s always been dead against going in a home. Don’t you go putting me into one of them places she says. I’m not going into no old people’s home. But I can’t think what else to do. I know you can get live-in carers, but she wouldn’t want someone strange in the house. It was hard enough getting her used to the carers. It’s a worry, that’s for sure.’
‘Maybe you could try getting her in for a spot of respite. Just for a couple of weeks. See how she goes. My bet is she’ll settle right in. There are people there all the time, keeping her company and making sure she’s safe. There’s a lot of resistance to the idea of residential care, but it’s not what they think. She’d have her own room, nice n’ cosy, familiar things around her. I think she might like it.’
‘How do we go about doing that, then?’
‘There’s nothing to stop you looking around for yourself. Asking people for recommendations. But if you’re worried about the financial side of things I could always get a social worker to talk to you. This is more their domain.’
‘Could you? That’d be great. I just need to get a clear idea of where we are and what’s to be done.’
‘I’ll do it today.’
I start coughing. Phillip pulls out a packet of Fisherman’s Friends cough lozenges.
‘Try one of these!’ he says. ‘I swear by ‘em. When you’re outside all the time you need something with a bit of a kick.’
It certainly has that – and it stops me coughing.
‘I’ll tell you the best cold remedy,’ says Phillip, putting the packet back in his pocket. ‘Drop one in a glass of vodka. Sloosh it round. Down in one.’
‘A bit like sloe gin for builders.’
‘Something like that,’ he says.

After I’ve said goodbye and let myself out, I notice a huge lorry parked outside the house. On the side of it, in great, big, block white capitals: HEYWOOD & sons.
H-E-Y-W-double O-D

Dom the cat comes back

This is an allegorical parable / but nothing TOO politically scatalogical, scary or horrible / so don’t worry / you won’t have to say sorry / run out in a hurry / hands over your ears, eyes all blurry / no – this is easier on the nerves than that / this is a story about a magician’s cat

There was this magician called Boris / superficially magicianly but a bit of a novice / who used to crash about the place / his spells a disgrace / comical flying goggles strapped to his face / cackling in a cliche witchy way / as he gabbled and grappled with the problems of the day / riding a long & expensive-looking broom / he kept propped up in the corner of his room / with a woven willow pillion on the back / for a little black tom / called Dom

Dom was cool & collected / sharp & connected / gave whispery, whiskery advice / had a good head for heights / jumped without warning & never looked twice / knew a lot about mice / but wasn’t obsessed / was wary of dogs but not so you’d guess / his photo often in the local press / I mean – in all feline respects he was blessed / and the thing he loved best / was any kind of magical test

One night an ogre approached the village / waving its fists, threatening pillage / chucking cows, cars, silage / getting plenty of mileage / from the usual ogreish antics / and cliche monster movie theatrics / it was all looking pretty tragic / until the mayor went to Boris to plead for some magic

No problemo / Major-Domo! / he blustered / but looked a little flustered / as he reluctantly snatched up his broom / flew out of the room / straight at the beast / to a holding altitude of three ogres at least / then laughed as its terrible rage increased / swiping as he circled out of reach / and everything seemed set to continue like that / till he banked too hard and lost the cat / which the ogre caught smartly in its upturned hat

‘Stop right now or the kitten gets it’ / the ogre said – and meant it / he had a mean reputation and was happy to augment it / you name the moral code – he’d bent it / if there was ever any forgiveness in his heart he’d spent it / a long time ago / I don’t know / these things domino / but whatever the deep psychological reason / for the ogre’s endless, friendless season / of monstrous malfeasance / long story short – he was nursing a grievance / so heinous it ranked as his greatest achievement / and he kept the villagers permanently scared / with a series of moves he’d pre-prepared / and some he thought of on the spot / depending on how much time he’d got

But Dom was a resourceful cat / he leaped out of the ogre’s hat / scooted round his back / up onto his shoulder / gripped him by his spike-studded collar / and shouted deep in his hairy ear / I can see you’re cross but there’s nothing to fear / we’re all friends here / you don’t need to be quite so severe / WHAT? – the ogre bellowed / but something about him crumpled & mellowed / he suddenly seemed a more vulnerable fellow / C’mon said Dom, let’s sit and talk / or talk and walk / your choice / just lose the club and lower the voice / we can talk about your childhood, or not – whatever / I just want to get to know you better

So Dom & the ogre walked out on the moors / with Dom on his back waving his paws / and the villagers came out and broke into applause / and Boris landed in the square / and shook hands with the mayor / and everyone there / and they danced and sang till the moon came out / and it was a very good night without a doubt

At last by dawn the cat came back / wandering innocently down the track / and hopped up on the fountain steps / where he licked his paws & yawned & stretched / then looked out over the expectant people / as the bells rang out from the village steeple

You need not fear the ogre again / I’ve ended the creature’s terrible reign / he wants you to know he’s not your enemy / he only needed a little therapy

That’s magic! Boris said / leaning down to pat his head / And now I think we’ve earned our bed / so they both hopped on to the waiting broom / and zoomed away in a billowing plume / of dust / over the hushed / but adoring villagers / who were such rapt & distracted listeners / they didn’t see the ogre creeping back / to launch another surprise attack / that he’d pre-arranged with the sneaky cat / in return for a crooked kick-back

(And the moral of this lamentable chronicle? / ogre’s are bogus and diabolical / cats are sneaky it’s a natural fact / they’ll take your strokes then leave you flat / and last but not least / fight your own beasts / it’s no use going to the local magician / he’ll say and do anything to keep his position).
IMG_1333

things that go ‘whatever’ in the night

P1180449‘Anytime anything goes missing I know it’s mum. It’s like the other day. I couldn’t find my purse anywhere, even though I’d only just put it down. So I went to the bottom of the stairs and I shouted Mum! Give it a rest! And when I turned round, there it was, in the middle of the table. I mean – it drives me nuts! But on the other hand, it’s nice to know she’s still around, d’you know what I mean?’

‘Absolutely! It’s like my Uncle Dave. Dead Uncle Dave. He was always such a laugh when he was alive, a real practical joker. And since he’s gone it’s only got worse. You can tell when he’s in one of his moods, because nothing’s where you left it, things in odd places. So I’ll save Dave! Will you stop that now! And he does. Mostly.’

‘Well – I was driving home one night. And I usually take this bend pretty fast. But this one time I heard this voice in my head saying: Slow down Karen. So I did – and there was a cow standing right in the middle of the road. And if I’d carried on like I was, I would’ve been killed.’

I want to add a ghost story of my own but really I don’t have one.

My Dad was convinced he saw a ghost when he lived in an old tenement block in London. He passed an old woman on the stairs, said hello, she ignored him, he carried on, and when he turned round again she’d gone. She didn’t vanish or anything. Just wasn’t there. (So – maybe she was just visiting someone in the block, Dad? No – she was definitely a ghost. And later on – I’m not kidding – turns out, an old woman had died in the block, some years before.)

Hardly M R James. More like Sid James.

Mum had one. She said she woke up one night and saw her friend Fred standing at the end of the bed looking sad, and she knew immediately he’d died and come to say goodbye. Which was verified later by the fact he’d appeared at exactly the hour he died. Presumably when the paramedics were tidying up.

I like ghost stories, and I’m as easily spooked as the next person. But there are a few things that have always bothered me about ghosts. So at the risk of sounding pedantic & a right ol’ seance-pooper, here there are (in no particular spectral order):

  1. When do you actually acquire a spirit? Is it at the point of fertilisation? In which case, do the egg and the sperm carry a little bit each?
  2. Why aren’t ghosts naked? If a ghost is some kind of projection, the living essence of someone, why does that include jeans and trainers?
  3. You have to think that coming back as a ghost is difficult, otherwise we’d be absolutely rammed. So given that it IS such hard work, why do ghosts waste so much time doing obscure stuff, like hiding someone’s purse then putting it back, or being clippy on a stairwell? Why, if they’ve managed to fight their way back to the world of the living, don’t they just go on TV and talk about their experience? I’d certainly watch.
  4. A lot of ghostly phenomena just seems profoundly unfair. I mean, a person gets murdered, which is bad enough. But then they’re doomed to hang around some gloomy spot, replaying the circumstance for tens if not hundreds of years. Ah, you say. That’s where the priest comes in, running down the cellar steps with his / her bottle of holy water, snap-together crucifix and EVP recorder. But if a priest can do this kinda thing because they’re a representative of God – where’s God? Why do they need a middle man / woman? If God’s all about love & justice &c, why don’t they intervene and do what’s palpably right – and liberate the tormented spirit? Ah – but now we’re in the domain of free will. Really? It doesn’t sound as if the poor ghost had much say in the matter. Something bad happened to them and boom – sorry mate – I don’t make the rules.
  5. Since 1964, The James Randi Educational Foundation has been offering money to anyone who can demonstrate psychic or ghostly phenomena under laboratory conditions. Lots of psychics and mediums have come forward, no-one has managed it, and the pot stands unclaimed at one million dollars.
  6. Most people die in hospitals, so they must be the most crowded places on earth. Which they are, of course, but let’s not get political.

Of course, all these objections get brushed aside with a Shakespearean ‘there are more things in heaven & earth, Horatio…’ Which is true. There’s Dark Matter, Quark strings, Quorn – you name it, I’ve no idea. And anyway, ‘an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’. Also true, but I think after all this time the burden of proof must have shifted the other way. Not that anyone cares. We’re too invested. As people we orientate ourselves in the world by telling stories. It’s a fundamental trait, like smiling, or sneezing. Confirmation Bias is a tart way of saying we like to tie things up in a way that makes sense to us, and gives us comfort – even if that comfort feels more like a delicious thrill. Because you have to think the subtext to many of these stories is the belief that the soul or spirit is something that exists independently of the body, and carries on in some form or other when we die – even if it’s only to hide your purse.

We’re family, after all.

sig

I was over the far side of the woods today when I found an old plastic drinks bottle. It was really annoying. Even though I knew I couldn’t just leave it there, I wasn’t particularly happy about carrying it all the way back. So to make it less of a chore, I thought I’d treat it like the bottle was somebody famous, being interviewed & photographed for a celebrity magazine.

– o O o –

OK (recycle) magazine


November issue

P1190950Life’s hectic. You just get handed round. Everyone wants you and it’s hard to say no, y’know? Sometimes it gets too much. You feel like blowing your cap, tearing off your labels and your price tags and shouting ‘I’m just a bottle! Leave me alone!’
Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. It gives me a real fizz. But I’m no different to any other soft drinks container. I crave the normal things. Lying around doing nothing. Listening to the birds. The rain. Listening to ME! It’s so important to drop out, now and again. To leave all that baggage behind, get away from the hype and the fuss. All the additives. Sometimes I’ve just got to get back to nature or I’ll lose my bubble.

P1190902

Despite what you see in the adverts I’m actually an introvert. I need my alone time or I get a little flat. Start acting all cokey.

You want to know my favourite thing? Sometimes I put a spiky wig on and just hang out on a log. See what happens. See who blows by. You’d be surprised. Once you’ve shrugged off all those labels – y’know? – all the marketing razzmatazz – we’re all the same. We’re all just plastic, yeah?

P1190905I love these mushrooms. You like these mushrooms? Are they mushrooms? Or toadstools? What’s the difference? What’s in a label, anyway? Things are things. It rains, they grow. They die. Shit happens. Two things I want to do with my life before I get recycled. One is to go back to school so I can learn about the natural world, the REAL word. So I could point at these weird, funnelly little things and say: Here they are! The – I don’t know – the Spongy Breakfast Bowls or whatever. That’s what I love about mushrooms. They’ve got such funny names. Scary names, some of them. Old Horrible Smelly Skull. Stinking Goat’s Bits. I don’t know. I just made them up. I’ve got such an imagination. People think I’m mad but it’s just ideas and you shouldn’t be scared of them.

P1190956One thing I’ve really gotta do is write a kid’s book. I could do one based on mushrooms. It’d be like this funny little mushroom family, living in an old log or something. And the dad would be all like: Hey little Billy Mushroom. Where d’you think YOU’RE going? And Billy mushroom would be all like: Oh, I don’t know, dad – an ADVENTURE, I guess! And then he’d be off having it! Something with a crow, maybe. I like crows. They’re quite goth, aren’t they? I’ve already sketched some designs for a lunchbox and a pencil case. You know – the tie-ins. I’ve got a talent for it. That and colouring.

P1190912

I’m quite a natural country kind of person when it comes down to it. Some people get anxious when they think of badgers and foxes and things, but I don’t – I feel properly at home in the woods. More than that – it’s like my religion. For me, a walk in the woods is like a walk in a cathedral. Where the trees are the arches, yeah? And the falling leaves are like the leaves of the holy bible drifting down from heaven. And the dog walkers are the priests, and the birds are the choir. That’s definitely going in the book. It’s pretty much writing itself. That’s another thing the woods are good for – thinking out new ideas. My only problem is remembering them all!

 

P1190955

My best mate’s a lucozade bottle. She’s quite sporty – not like me! We hang out together a lot. Just sit together in silence, mostly. She knows what it’s like. Left on the shelf, you think it’s all over, snatched off, shaken up. Tossed aside. We’ve seen some times, Lucie and me. But that’s the thing about friends. You don’t have to prove anything, pretend to be something you’re not.

Sometimes it’s enough to just sit in a tree and breathe.

 

P1190958

 

peas in a pod

The moment I press the front bell a furious howling and barking starts up deep within the house; a half second later, a malevolently dark shape starts leaping up and down the other side of the door, battering itself against the frosted butterfly glass, crazy as a baby wolf on a trampoline, doing everything it can to get to me bar setting up an oxy acetylene cylinder and cutting a hole through the panel. A minute or so passes but the dog doesn’t tire. It even seems to be trying out some fancy moves – a half-tuck, a forward roll. Eventually, a light goes on. A shadow coalesces through the butterflies, three pane zones into one.
‘Shashi! Shashi! For goodness sake – shush now!’ A chain rattles back, a lock turns, the door opens. Despite myself, I can’t help drawing back, expecting the dog to launch itself at my throat; instead, it trots out quite happily to sniff my shoes, as if it was only contracted to bark so long as the door stayed shut.
‘Lovely to see you!’ says June. ‘Sorry about Shashi. She sounds terrible but she’s perfectly harmless.’
‘Her bark’s worse than her bite.’
‘Well her bite’s pretty bad, to be honest, but since she had her teeth out she’s calmed down in that respect.’
I’m relieved.’
June leads me through to her living room. It’s a tidy space, dominated right and left by two enormous Georgian-style doll’s houses. Each house has a little patch of garden in front, surrounded by a white picket fence. In the garden of one, two elderly dolls lounge in deck chairs, reading the paper; in the other, a doll mows the lawn with a dog exactly like Sashi following behind.
‘Have a seat,’ says June. She gets into position to sit down herself, unaware that Shashi has already jumped up onto the armchair and – apparently – fallen asleep.
‘Watch out!’ I say.
‘What? Oh – d’you mean the dog? She’ll move.’
I can hardly watch. June drops down into the chair immediately above the dog, which only moves at the very last second, reaching out with a paw to whip its tail out of the way as June lands with a weighty sigh.
‘There!’ she says. Then looks around.
‘I don’t know where the other is. They’re thick as thieves, normally. Brother and sister. Peas in a pod.’
I’d spoken to June’s son before coming here today. He’d talked to me about June’s increasing problems with dementia, her loss of short term memory, her habit of leaving the cooker on, door open, bath running. The whole thing is moving towards residential care, but for now the family were looking at increasing the number of carers during the day.
‘It’s been a difficult few days,’ he says. ‘Yesterday we had to have one of the dogs put down. The vet came out and it was pretty awful, but I’m not sure Mum remembers too much about it.’
I look over at Shashi. She’s left June’s armchair to curl up on one of two plush, tasselled red cushions on the opposite sofa. As if she can read my mind, she raises her head and stares at me.
‘Don’t!’ she seems to say.

glenda calls time

Glenda watches as I unpack my kit.
‘Why is everyone so obsessed with my blood?’ she says.
‘The doctors want another sample. I think they’re mostly interested in how your liver’s doing.’
‘I think you’ll find it’s not doing all that well, Jim. It’s ninety-five, like the rest of me.’
Glenda has a steady, sad demeanour, like an ancient donkey peering through a gate.
‘You know – it’s perfectly alright to say no to any of this stuff,’ I tell her. ‘So long as you understand what it is you’re refusing.’
‘I don’t mind if you take some more blood,’ she says. ‘I don’t want to be difficult. Anyway, it passes the time.’
‘I don’t think you’re difficult,’ I tell her, setting out my things. ‘In fact I think you’re a model patient.’
‘Now – you’re either very kind or a good liar. Which is it?’
‘Honest answer?’
‘Only a liar would say that.’
‘Well there you are, then.’
‘Yes. Here I am, then. More’s the pity.’
I fetch over a pillow for her arm.
‘Why are they so exercised about the state of my liver?’ she says.
‘It mentions a paracetamol overdose on the blood form.’
‘Ah,’ says Glenda. ‘That.’
‘So – was it accidental, or….’
‘Absolutely not! Accidental! I knew perfectly well I wanted to kill myself.’
‘Oh! I’m sorry.’
‘What? That I failed?’
‘No! That you felt so bad you wanted to kill yourself.’
She shakes her head and gestures to the room.
‘It’s not exactly the Ritz, is it?’
‘It’s not bad. You’ve got a view of the garden. Those trees are lovely.’
‘It’ll take more than a couple of Japanese maples to convince me life is worth living. I mean – come on! I’m ninety-five! Look at me! I’m worn out! I’ve had my time and very nice it was too. But longevity is no fun, let me tell you.’
‘I can see that.’
‘Stuck in the chair for hours on end until someone decides to put you back to bed.’
‘Have you spoken to anyone about how you feel?’
‘You mean a psychiatrist?’
‘We’ve got some mental health nurses on the team. They’re really nice.’
‘I would hope they are. But I’d be wasting their time. You see – this isn’t a mental health problem. I belong to something called Dignity in Dying. Have you heard of it?’
‘Vaguely. I think so.’
‘You wouldn’t be so vague if you were ninety-five, I can assure you.’
‘Maybe not.’
‘Definitely not.’
‘The thing is, Glenda. There’s so much going on in the world. Brexit. Climate Change. The rise of populism. Nationalism. Trump, for God’s sake! These are scary times. Interesting times. And we need you to stick around and tell us what you think. You’ve lived through a war. People forget. They start to feel invulnerable – you know? – like they can go on as they like forever, and nothing really matters.’
Glenda laughs.
‘Just get on and bleed me,’ she says, pushing up her sleeve. ‘You’re absolutely priceless! You want me to carry on living so I can see how Brexit turns out? My God – if the nurses hadn’t locked my tablets away I’d be throwing them back by the handful.’