Ah, you are thinking. Geddit. Like Thunderbirds Are Go, only Carers Are Go. She must be one of those rare nerdy women that haunt comic shops and sit in darkened front rooms watching box-sets of little puppets bobbing up and down with uniforms on, puppets that all seem to have undergone lip-and-eyebrow enhancement surgery and have but two expressions – solemn or smug. True, I am a fan of Sheldon Cooper and The Big Bang Theory. Except that I have now watched almost every single episode three or four times – in and out of sequence – and can’t face another. Say Big Bang to me now and it feels like being offered a chocolate truffle when you’ve just finished 1.275 kg net tin of Quality Street. I have never in my life dressed in a Wonderwoman outfit to go to a costume party or spent an entire evening playing computer games with invisible netizens in Japan or creatively vandalising Wikipedia, or set foot in a comic shop. I have never even seen a comic shop. Where do comic shops hang out? Maybe New York.
(Now how, you are thinking, would she happen to know the net weight of a tin of Quality Street to three decimal figures? This is because Sheldon Cooper told me. Telepathically.)
No, I say Carers Are Go because tomorrow morning at 7.30 a.m. a carer with any luck will enter my mother’s house for the first and not the last time. She may or may not be waiting behind the door with her walking stick since she was spitting feathers when I left her earlier today. I have never been accused of so many dreadful things in one sentence. But she needs carers. She so needs carers. She needs them to help her eat something other than Ryvita-and-margarine, yoghurt, stale biscuits and £1 currant cake. She needs them to make sure she takes her tablets. She needs them to check she hasn’t been randomly hitting all the buttons on the TV again, or turning off all the heaters at the wall, or standing in the kitchen in the dark, scanning for gypsies, or jabbing a hole in her thumb trying to open a pill dispenser with a kitchen knife instead of her fingers. She needs them to persuade her to wash, and to bellow realistically into the bathroom Begone with you, Bogymen. Stop scaring this old lady.
I never thought the day would come when I could defy her, ignore all her protestations and heartfelt sighs and no longer feel guilty, just cross and achingly tired – but that day has come. I have spent a whole morning and part of an afternoon perched on a fold-up conservatory chair drinking half-cold teabag-tea and being interrogated by a succession of chiropodists and mental health nurses with satellite trainee mental health nurses; then being telephoned by care managers and care providers (or not-providers as it has been up to now) who have not been speaking to one another; then re-telephoned several times by the same care managers and care providers with irritable and entirely contradictory information; then phoning my sister; then my sister phoning me; repeat the same; repeat yet again; then Mum lecturing me sourly for running up her landline bill by using my mobile phone in her conservatory.
How come my right hip feels dislocated, just from sitting? How come I can’t summon the energy to sneeze? How come all I could cook when I came in were two cartons of microwaved crinkle-cut chips with the last teaspoon of mayonnaise?
My sister has gone to the off-licence, purpose unstated, probably for fortification. You see, it’s her turn tomorrow. She’s the one who’ll have to drive twenty miles to be at Mum’s before 7.30 a.m. to let the carers in and arrange access until the key-safe arrives. She’s the one who will have to work out why the TV isn’t working again. She’s the one who will have to be prodded with the rubber end of the walking stick. As she says, Mum’s got to have carers now or we’ll be ill.
I’m probably ill already, but…
Carers Are Go.
My office chair and I seem to have become a single entity. We are melded. I shall never move from it again. They will find me here in fifty years, surrounded by starved cat-corpses, still on this chair, staring at a long-extinct computer screen – a skellington!!
Maybe if I count I might manage to rise, shuffle to the bathroom and lower myself into a giant, hot, scented foam bath with a steam-buckled paperback.
Let’s have a go. One, two…