Every now and again Geoff screws up his mouth at the side and ticks air through his teeth. It’s the kind of thing a builder or a mechanic might do before they quote for a difficult job.
Funnily enough, Geoff used to be a builder. He was active into his seventies, but then suffered a series of health problems, including a stroke that affected his right side, recurrent chest infections, and now his latest and most challenging problem, dementia. His wife Lena is normally home to look after him, but Lena’s been admitted to hospital with an MI – which is why Geoff’s GP has referred him to Rapid Response. Geoff’s dementia is low key at the moment, but he does get confused in the early hours, and has a tendency to wander and do dangerous things. We’ve been tasked to provide bridging care and night sitters to keep him safe until a regular agency can pick-up. I’ve come by to take some obs, see how he is.
‘I’m fine’, says Geoff. ‘I’m okay. C’mon! Feel that grip. No, no, not the right hand. The right hand’s the shite hand…’
His right is hooked over in a kind of claw, but his left is certainly strong.
‘Wow!’ I say. ‘That’s impressive!’
‘I was known for it,’ he says. ‘Now…’ He shrugs, makes the ticking noise again, then turns his attention back to the TV.
Poirot is wrapping things up, surveying a room of characters, building up to the big reveal. I don’t know who looks more bored – Poirot, or Geoff.
Behind the wide-screen TV is a wider-screen window, looking without interruption over the sea. It’s calm today, a clean, silvery slice of light. Dotting the horizon are several dark vertical lines – an offshore wind farm. I read somewhere they’ll provide the power for half the houses in the county. That’s a lot of houses. A lot of Poirot.
‘My son’ll be here later to take me to the hospital, says Geoff, cradling his bad hand. ‘I try to get over to see Lena most days. I know she worries about me.’
‘Have they said when she might be coming home?’
‘Nah! They keep changing their minds!’ he says. ‘Nobody knows anything!’ He turns his attention back to Poirot, so I do, too. The camera’s right on the detective, so tightly that his lugubrious face fills the entire screen. I half-expect him to look straight at us and say Ah! Monsieurs! But it is perfectly plain to me when Mrs Lena is to be discharged from the hospital. It will be next Monday. At approximately half-past eight. And YOU will be there to greet her!
Then wink, and curl his moustache.
Geoff screws up his mouth.