Home (a story by Petty)

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Home (a story by Petty) - Page 3 Empty Re: Home (a story by Petty)

Post by Orwell Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:14 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Thats the very bugger! Chewing like crazy here!

All I can say is, less talk, and more chewing!

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:53 am

[img]Home (a story by Petty) - Page 3 Popcorn[/img]

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A Green And Pleasant Land

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Post by Orwell Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:20 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:[img]Home (a story by Petty) - Page 3 Popcorn[/img]

No time for jokes, my good Scotshobbit --- to work! Mad

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:16 am

Here's the latest bit of Home. Still not happy with this bit yet. Its tricky as its one which concerns setting up the overall story with the care workers as well as being one of the punctuated ensemble bits with quite a few residents that offset the solo type chapters so far posted. So its a bit different in that respect. Chronologically this is chapter two- so before the 'Death of John Stibbons'.

2
Cleaners, Breakfast and Misdemeanours.


After getting Olly settled I gathered together some essentials in a small plastic basket, bin bags, spare towels and flannels, latex gloves and paper towels. I bumped into Lucy in the hall, “Who you wanting done?” I asked.
“You do this side of the corridor, leave John, Alma's going to go sit with him once she's got a few up. Get Margaret, Bob, Davy and anyone else still left after that.” I nodded and went to get Margaret.
Margaret had dementia but in a non aggressive fashion, she was bewildered but gentle as a lamb and more often smiling than not, as many people with dementia were.
The biggest problem was you couldn't leave her alone for two seconds or she would start rifling through the drawers, pulling all the clothes out. Or alternatively putting all the ornaments in the room into the drawers. And this could be a problem because every Home I have worked in has a mystery at its heart. And that mystery is laundry. Stuff goes in but it doesn't necessarily come back out.
A great deal of time in the morning is wasted going room to room in the search of a pair of knickers, or tights, or vests. And there is in any room you are in a good chance there will be a lack of at least one of these items, someone else will have already been in and taken the last pair because there were none in the room they were in. And so it self perpetuates. I have never quite fathomed how this comes about or how to prevent it but it happened with Margaret, meaning I had to leave her in what turned out to be a four room quest for a pair of tights, only to return in triumph to find she had collected every item from the bathroom; toilet rolls, toilet brush and holder, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, towels, flannels, sponges, shampoo and put them all in the wardrobe. But other than that she was easy going.
I tidied up whilst she was on the toilet and disposed of her soiled nightie. I got her dressed, brushed her hair, sprayed some perfume on her, applied some jewellery in the form of her rings and a necklace of green beads and then safely settled her in the main lounge with a plastic tumbler of diluted orange juice clasped in her hand. And Breakfast TV was still on to stupefy her. I disposed of her wet night nappy in one of the bins and the wet bed clothes and towels in the appropriate baskets in the main hall and it was as I was doing this that I heard the screams. But it was only Annie.
No one else screamed of a morning quite like Annie. To a new comer or a visitor it sounded as if all the most horrible abuses every heard of in a care home were being perpetrated on some poor old dear. The truth was a little different. Every home had an Annie. Annie had dementia, full on but she was canny with it and more than that she was a complete and utter bitch. There was no getting round it. Annie was a demon in the guise of a scrawny sweet looking white haired little old lady. She was a nasty piece of work. And never worse than first thing in the morning. I have no idea if any of the Annie we knew had any basis in the Annie before dementia, but the one we got was a mad ball of spitting rage a lot of the time.
I opened the door to the room and stuck my head in just to make sure everything was all right, for the carer that was, to find Stacy grappling with Annie who was naked and crying out for help. She had Stacy by the hair. Stacy had Annie by one hand and was trying to free her hair with the other and the whole time Annie was screaming “She's trying to kill me. Help me! Someone help me!” And it was a convincing cry for help. There was something about hearing an old lady in a withered, terrified voice begging screaming for help that was hard not to respond to emotionally, like hearing a child cry. It pulled on your heart strings. And Annie really sold it. Even when as now she was standing right in front of you being the aggressor and doing it.
“Help! Help! She’s trying to kill me!” Annie wailed and tugged harder on Stacy's hair, “Won't someone help me!”
“You mad old bitch” Stacy yelled at her, “Let go!”
I dumped my basket of bits and pieces on the floor and tried to help free Stacy's hair. Annie tried to kick me, lashing out with her frail legs. She had a grip like steel. The strength she could exert in her long bony fingers was truly astonishing and it took a lot of work to prise her fingers apart enough for Stacy to pull free. Even so she left quite a few long brown hairs behind in Annie’s grip.
Almost as soon as her hand was freed Annie swung it at me in a claw, I dodged just in time and caught her arm, clamping my own hand on her bony wrist. It was probably hard enough to bruise that old skin but she she was fighting hard and any less pressure would not have held her. Stacy tried to get round to my side, but that momentarily freed Annie's other hand and she clamped it down hard on the back of my hand, her nails digging in and I cursed. A flash of anger flared up in me in reaction to the pain, “That’s enough Annie!” I pulled my hand free of her and grabbed each of her hands forcing them together before her and held them there as if she were handcuffed. She was definitely going to have bruising round her wrists. Holding her however did not prevent her still trying to kick me and now she added spitting to her assault and I had to twist and turn my face away from her to prevent getting sprayed in her saliva. Even so I felt it falling on my cheeks and once on my upper lip but I couldn't risk letting my grip on her hands go to wipe it away.
“Help me. Someone help me! “ she screamed out again, “They're trying to kill me off!”
Suddenly I caught a strong whiff of shit, “Urgh, she stinks,” I said wrinkling my noise.
Stacy got beside me and took one arm and we half dragged her towards the toilet, “She's covered in it,” Stacy commented glancing down at Annie’s sagged and wrinkled posterior which was coated brown.
'Oh good', I thought looking at the back of my hand where there were four red marks, one of them bleeding lightly.
With much screaming and yelling we got her onto the toilet. She hollered “You fucking filthy little bastards,” in our faces as we negotiated her onto the toilet seat where she suddenly fell silent and then a second later after a loud fart she began peeing.
“You better get some soap on that,” Stacy said nodding at the back of my hand. I went over to the sink where there was a dispenser of anti-bacterial soap and with my back to Stacy began washing the small wounds, “Are her nails clean?” I asked.
“Uh,” Stacy hesitated,”Yeah.”
“Is that a lie?”
“Sort of, yes. They're not exactly clean, but it might not be shit.”
“Oh well that is a comfort. I might not have Hepatitis B. You got her from here?” I asked turning round and nodding at Annie while I dried my hands on the rough towel.
“Yeah. I'll just wash and dress her whiles she's sitting on the toilet. Thanks.”
It was amazing the calming effect of a toilet seat. “No problem,” I smiled and collecting my basket went on to my next room which was Bob's.


I liked Bob. He had been a Doctor of some sort. I'm not sure what exactly, not I think a general practitioner, not if his behaviour was any clue, or perhaps his behaviour was just a fantasy version of himself to get away from the dull GP reality he had lived. But he was definitely a Doctor. Apart from anything else it said so on his door. 'Mr Robert Macleod. M. D.'
Bob did experiments. Was often late for important lectures. Or had to go check results or run some new test. Bob was a man with work to do.
Some of the staff didn't like dealing with Bob. It wasn't that he was difficult, he wasn't really and in general he was good at taking orders. He was just odd. You could never be sure what you were getting with Bob.
This morning was a case in point. When I entered his room it was in darkness. Although that wasn't the first thing to strike me because the first thing was the smell of shit. Really very strong and ingrained in the air it seemed. It wasn't the diarrhoea sort which was immediately noxious and overpowering, this was the stench of the solid stuff, fermenting over hours. It didn't assault you, it seeped unpleasantly into you.
Normally when the night shift do their last round at 6am they put on the bedside lamp. But Bob's was off. The sun was up high enough that there was a chink of daylight through the closed curtains, but Bob's window faced the back of the building and away from the rising sun and the sky was overcast so it was muted and grey. I could make out only shapes.
Bobs bed was the dominant shape. It had raised barred sides so it appeared like a large dark cot. The sides were padded with a cover that was detachable, the sides could only be unlocked and lowered from the outside. Bob was sitting up in the bed, I could make out his bulky silhouette looming over the side, he was arranging something on top of the padding on the raised side.
I groped for the main light switch on the wall and flicked it on. Bob squinted up at me and beamed me a big lopsided happy smile. He was not a tall man but he was broad and a bit chubby. He had retained his hair well and it was mostly still dark with only stray streaks of grey in it and it grew in a large cows lick at the front, so it over shadowed his face. His eyes shone hazel and were filled with an eager curiosity. There was something of the overgrown schoolboy about him, easy to picture in shorts and T-shirt with podgy arms and legs, full of a childish enthusiasm that was written in his face. It struck me that it was an old man's face with a young boy's expression on it.
“They're nearly done,” he announced with unconcealed delight.
I had my arm across my face now, the stench was catching the back of my throat.
Before Bob, arrayed in a neat row, were six or seven sizeable round brown balls of shit. Each neatly rolled I could see by Bob himself, the palms of whose hands were thick with it and whose nails were encrusted with it. My stomach flipped a little.
Bob squinted and grunted and there was a plopping sound. He reached round behind himself, dug around a bit and then raised his hand towards me, “Look. Another one,” he declared eyes sparkling as if some miracle had just occurred before us. Immediately he began to roll the new lump of shit between his hands and when he was satisfied with it he delicately added it to the row.
I skirted round the bed, the smell getting stronger the further into the room I went, I got to the window and fumbled with the latches to release them and opened it wide. I stuck my head out and took in a deep breath of fresh cold morning air, with a hint of rain and sea salt in it. I coughed and choked and took in more fresh, clean air. Suitably refreshed I turned back to face the stinking specimen that was Doctor Bob.
From behind I could see the inside of the bed, and up the interior sides, it was splattered and smeared with excrement, peering over the top I could see Bob's backside was coated with it and that it extended some distance up his back and under his pyjama top. The pyjama bottoms were barely visible at the bottom of the bed, they were full. The smell was atrocious but I was just about bearing with it, shit never gets more pleasant in smell but somehow you do get used to it.
I put a pair of the flimsy latex gloves on, detached the padded cover from the side Bob had his back to and which didn't contain his row of trophies or experiments or whatever it was he thought they were, and discarded it into a corner to deal with later and lowered the side. I got the pyjamas out too and found discarded at the top of the bed his night nappy, also heavily soiled. I put the shitty stuff into a corner in the bathroom out of the way, it had a tiled floor and therefore was easier to clean, and then tried to get Bob out the bed.
“OK Bob, time to go,” I coaxed.
“I can't go now,” he said turning to me and frowning, he indicate the balls of shit, “I have to watch these.”
“Its not your turn Bob, “ I said, “You've been at it all night,” I reasoned, “Your shift's over.”
“But I want to see it,” he insisted fiercely and slammed his fist down on the bed. I put my hand on his shoulder, the clock was ticking and I didn't have time for this, just cleaning up in here was going to take long enough, “Come on now Bob, time to go.” But putting my hand on him was a mistake and he reacted angrily, shrugging me off and stating firmly, “No, I want to see this.”
“It could take hours Bob. You can't do it right if you're tired. You need a break, someone else can take over,” I tried, “ Now come on. Take a break and have a cup of tea.”
“I suppose,” he conceded, “maybe a cup of tea.”
“That's the way, and a spot of breakfast, do you good Doctor.”
I eased him out of the filthy bed and into the bathroom where I stripped off his pyjama top and hosed him down in the shower. Fortunately Bob enjoys a shower and he blustered and laughed his way through it, finding it ticklish when I was trying to scrub the encrusted shit from his feet and from between his toes. Finally I got him clean and dressed in shirt and slacks held up with red braces and took him into the lounge.
I went back to his room. Using a roll of toilet paper to wrap them in I collected up the balls of shit one by one and deposited them in a bag, wincing involuntarily at each one as I grasped it. The last two were still warm. Then with great care stripped the bed and stuffed the sheets into black bags and tied them up, then I hosed down the side panels in the shower, they were water proof so I just wiped them down with towels and reattached them to the bed. I decided I'd come back for the shitty nappy and dump the sheets first, its was getting late and I did not want the cleaners to take the baskets to the laundry before I had got to them or I 'd have to take the bags up myself. And time was short enough.
I left the window wide open and used Bob's deodorant to spray the room. I took the bags to the baskets in the hall, they were still there, and turned to go back for the nappy when Lucy stuck her head out of a door, looked up and down the corridor and spotted me. “In here, quick, the hoists not working.”
The room she was in belonged to Martha Miller, who was wheelchair bound, had been for many years and loved all things sweet and tasty. The combination of which had resulted in a great big fat demented woman with bad teeth who was constantly being put on diets which had no hope of ever succeeding. When I got into the room Martha was naked in mid-air with her immense bulk swaying slightly left to right like a slow moving pendulum. Her suspended arms and legs with their folds of fat poked out the harness at four corners. Lucy had been getting her from her bed to her shower chair by means of the new electric hoist. We had two hoists, one was old and pneumatic, you worked it by pumping a lever up and down. It had never failed us but it had been resigned to a cupboard in favour of this, the new all singing all dancing one which ran from the socket at the mere press of a button on the high tech hand pad. Only right now it wasn't and Martha was half way between bed and chair.
“It just stopped,” Lucy explained in exasperation, “I've tried using a different socket, I've disconnected and reconnected the lead, nothing. And the back up battery hasn't been charged.”
The harness part of the hoist was just like a big square hammock attached to a central pole by hooks. The base of the contraption was wide and solid on a spread v shaped base and very heavy to counterbalance the weight of its passenger, it was basically like hauling in a very fat fish in a net. I stabbed the buttons on the hand set controller but there was no response, not even a dying whine or a murmur. There was no power getting to it. “Might be the fuse,” I offered, “but we ain't got time to change that if it is. Probably take half an hour just to find a screwdriver in this place. If there even is one. I'll get the other hoist,” I offered.
“But how do we get her out of this one?” Lucy asked, “look” she kicked at the clamps on the hoists wheels, removing the breaks and leaning against it rolled it forwards back towards the bed. Martha swung in her net and I had to steady her. “See?” Lucy said, pointing at Martha, she was hovering over the bed but there was well more than a half foot between her and it. She needed to be lower to get her out.
“Shit,” I remarked. I turned to Lucy, “We could, tip it,” I suggested.
“It might go right over on her,” Lucy pointed out.
“Not if we keep a good hold on her, and,” an idea suddenly came to me. I went to her cupboard and rooted about emerging with several thick tartan woollen blankets and some pillows and cushions. I piled these underneath Martha reducing the height by a good few inches and giving her a softer landing if she did come down a bit quick. “Unless you can think of something else,” I said raising an eyebrow.
“No, I can't. Just make sure you get a good hold on it. And we better pray Patterson doesn't walk in and see this.” She stayed on her side of the hoist and I went to the side Martha was swinging on and got a hold near the top where the pole was attached. I placed my feet squarely and leant into it then pulled it over towards me, and Lucy tipped it towards me from her side. It began to go over and Martha swung at the end of it, the shift in her weight brought the top over faster than I was expecting and she swung against the wall next to the bed with a thud. “Sorry Martha,” I called out, “You all right?”
“Fine,” she replied cheerfully from within the harness.
“That's the spirit that won us two wars Martha,” I commented approvingly. I steadied the top and gently eased it over taking the weight on my shoulder momentarily, then felt it ease as Martha made contact with the bed. Lucy hurried round to the bedside and unhooked the harness from the hoist. I tipped the machine back up once Martha was free and it thumped back squarely onto the floor.
Whilst Lucy undid the straps I went and retrieved the old hoist from the store cupboard and pushed it back to Martha's room. A few minutes later and some vigorous pumping of the lever and she was seated in her bath chair and on her way to the shower and another calamity was averted.

My next stop was Davy, I wasn't sure of the exact time by now as I went into his room, but quarter to nine was my guess. We were definitely running late whatever it was of that I was sure. Davy was English, a cockney in fact and stereotypes aside there was certainly something of the cheeky chappy about him. He was a round little man with a bald round head that gleamed. He had been a pianist on cruise ships. He spoke in a rather odd fashion, it was with a cockney accent but somehow also slightly posh. He was immensely polite and very fussy. A little effeminate. Many people thought from his mannerisms and his brightly coloured wardrobe of waistcoats that he was gay. But if he was gay then he was good at disguising it because Davy's dementia, if it was that, manifested itself in an unusual way. It was not just the normal talking about people no one had ever heard of, wandering the corridors half naked looking for long lost relatives or sudden mood swings, no, Davy had a sort of tourettes. He couldn't seem to help himself from making the most lurid sexual comments to female residents and staff. And then he acted as if he had said nothing at all and would deny having said any such thing at all if pressed on it. But there was something so meaningful, so careful in what he said that I was inclined to think he was putting it on, and that he just did it for kicks. But it was impossible to be certain.
He was easy to get ready in the mornings, standing politely while I showered and shaved him. He had his stereo on in the background with a jazz piano piece playing, “Whose that on the piano?” I asked, although I had no real interest, jazz was not my sort of music, I was just making small talk, keeping his interests alive and active in his mind.
“ Shelly Berg,” he replied, “Wonderful hands. Brilliant editor.”
“Never heard of her I'm afraid,” I replied above the noise of the shower, he cupped a soapy ear at me, “I said I've never heard of her.”
“Him,” he replied,”Shelly Berg is a him.”
I switched off the shower, “Well I've never heard of him either,” I said throwing him a towel. He rubbed his face vigorously, “You have no taste young man,” he admonished whilst I went round behind him to dry his back with the large bath towel.
“Well you'll have to tell me about him then,” I said, and he did whilst I finished drying him.
I was just finishing getting him dressed when the room door opened and Lucy came in, her hair was like her face, flustered.
“Ah there she is. My lovely morning rose,” Davy crooned to her as she came into the room.
“Davy,” I warned.
Lucy had a large tube of cream in one hand, “For his feet,” she said handing it to me.
“Tits like two ripe melons,” David observed, staring at Lucy's cleavage , “I could slip it between those mighty mounds from sun up to sunset and not have a care in the world.”
“You've been warned about this Davy,” Lucy admonished.
“Any sign of Chris yet?” I asked enquiring after our newest recruit and youngest member of staff.
“Not a word. Looks like he is a no-show. And he better not show up now because I might just strangle him to death if he does the morning we've had,” Lucy smiled menacingly.
“You'll need to wait till I've finished kicking him” I replied sourly, “So where we at?”
“We've got Francis, but she can get her breakfast in her room, easier with her anyway. And no-ones been in to see little Betty yet. She’ll need to wait until after breakfast now. Brian can stay in his bed too, he's still on fluids only anyway. Alan is in the hospital still, so that's lucky. I've put Alma on the first shift sitting with John. You'll be on next at ten. Stacy is too hopeless in these situation, she just goes into floods of tears, with any luck he'll be dead by the time it gets to her turn.”
“And when do I get my break?”
“Sorry, you'll need to take last, not till after your turn with John,” she looked sympathetic but also resolute about her decision. I could see arguing about it wasn't going to help me any. But knowing I was not going to get a smoke till much later made me want one now all the more.
“But here's hoping he doesn't decide to die while we're in the middle of breakfast then,” I said.
“Don't even joke, he's not far away now I reckon.” Lucy retorted, “And there’s still people needing moved from the lounge to the dining room,” she sighed, “We're miles behind this morning Patterson’s not going to be happy, so try and keep your mouth shut today, for once, for me? And chop chop with him,” she nodded at Davy.
“And how are we supposed to do breakfast with just the three of us?” I protested.
“There sending Agnes up from downstairs to lend a hand. We'll manage, we always do,” she smiled almost sweetly enough to lighten my mood but not quite enough, and turned to leave. I stole an admiring glance at her curved rear as she walked away and I wasn't the only one to do so.
“I'd part those arse cheeks in a heartbeat,” Davy commented at her retreating posterior. She left the room with a scowl.
“Davy,” I said gently, “you can't keep saying things like that to the girls. They'll lock you up for it these days. That's sexual harassment. Women don't put up with that shit any more.”
“What shit?” he asked innocently, “I didn't say a thing.” And his face betrayed nothing at all but there it was, that impossible moment when you couldn't be sure that he really didn't know or remember what he was saying. You just couldn't prove it one way or another. Suspicions or not.
I got Davy to his seat in the dining room, there were five tables with five at each. The most capable, those who could get to the breakfast table under their own steam with walking frames and sticks went at the furthest tables. Every table except the furthest corner one by the window had someone with a wheel chair, placing wheel chaired residence was a bit of an art form as the handles sticking out could make manoeuvring with hot plates of food tricky if you got it wrong. The table nearest the lounge was known as the feeders table. The five residents at it all required feeding by a Carer.
It was two minutes to nine by the time we started wheeling the last of the residents into place. There were still some empty seats at the tables but all who were going to make it were here.
Meal times were generally peaceful times. Eating was regarded as a serious business by most of the residents, dementia or not and they concentrated on the task at hand. But the brief period waiting on the food to arrive on the trolleys from the kitchens downstairs were not peaceful. Fights broke out over wrongfully seized cutlery. Cups of juice were spilled. Annie filled her cup with napkins and got into a fight with her neighbour Mary who was unwilling to relinquish her napkin to the cause and Lucy had to break them up.
When breakfast did arrive it did not look hugely appetising. There was a mix of cooked foods- sausages, eggs, bacon, scrambled egg, in large metal trays which looked like they had been in there a while already. And there were large plastic tubs of not very exciting cereals; corn flakes, bran flakes, weetabix and the like. Rice Krispies was about as exciting as they got and I was surprised they hadn't banned those in case the noise frightened anyone. And there was also lot so toast but made from cheap pretend bread.
We got the breakfasts served quite quickly with only the two of us, although Stacy arrived finally bringing Mrs White with her in her big wheelchair draped in rugs. Mrs White was our oldest resident at 103. She 'good morninged' everyone very politely as Stacy put her at a table.
Lucy and I both sat at the feeders table. I was feeding two residence on my side, Mabel who was blind and in a wheel chair and Margaret, who loved her morning porridge and could easily see off two or three bowls on a good day. Lucy had three residents on her side. Stacy served and topped up drinks and moved from table to table keeping the peace.
Agnes came in, she was a Carer from the bottom floor, a small women in her fifties who didn't speak much. I didn’t really know her and was not even sure if I had actually ever spoken to her directly before. The two floors for the most part may as well have been in separate buildings for all the interaction they had. And to most of the staff on the bottom floor, where there were no dementia patients and the residents were all able bodied, our floor was the stuff of horror tales. Certainly Agnes didn't seem to thrilled to be here and looked around nervously.
“Could you feed Susan please Agnes,” Lucy said to her and nodded to the hunched over grey haired women beside her. Agnes nodded and found a chair and pulled it up beside Susan.
Lucy nudged me under the table with her foot and nodded for me to look behind me. Our Floor Manager Mrs Patterson had appeared behind the serving counter, a clip board in hand.
Mrs Patterson was from Edinburgh, and to the ear of a west coast Scot like myself she sounded snooty and as if she was always putting on airs. Her first name was June but we weren't allowed to call her by her first name, if had to be Mrs Patterson. When I had first started working in a Care Home the mangers had all been either ex carers or nurses, not afraid when the numbers were low or things were busy to get their hands dirty and you knew them by their first name. But as the old state homes had been sold off and the private sector took over the managers had morphed into these distant power suited freaks. Managers who had probably never wiped shit from their own children’s arses let alone a wrinkly old strangers. Managers who knew nothing about the job as practised but who seemed to think you could get a Home running to a timetable. And you could, but then it was called a prison. But managers like Mrs Patterson never seemed to see it like this. Everything they did was for the benefit of the resident in their minds. Maybe it was a self delusion that let her sleep at night, maybe she really believed it.
She talked to all the residents as if they were four years old, but this didn't really matter because she had no real interest in the answers anyway. Everything about her seemed to be a show. A front. She was in her late thirties but covered her face in so much foundation, mascara and blusher that she looked like a much older women trying to look younger and failing. And her lipstick was always a ludicrous vibrant red. She turned it on you like car headlights.
She came out from behind the serving counter, her clipboard in hand with a sheath of papers attached to it and smiled at everyone, she was standing close enough to me I could actually see the foundation cracking at the corners of her mouth from the strain.
“OK everyone,” she began, “it's going to be a busy day today. A big day for us. With lots to do.”
“There's a surprise,” I murmured to Margaret as I spooned some more porridge into her mouth. I'd whispered low enough not be heard just not quite so low that Mrs Patterson hadn't caught the general murmur and she turned the full glare of her lipstick in my direction. Lucy kicked me under the table. “We are getting a visit from Head Office today, Mr Anderson will be inspecting the Home so I want everything to look pristine.”
“I haven't had any tea,” Annie put in indignantly, she was seated right next to where Mrs Patterson was standing, “where's my bloody tea?” I perked up, this could get interesting.
“In a minute Annie,” Mrs Patterson hushed and patted Annie on the head as if she were a small dog. There's was a collective intake of breath at this from the carers and even some of the more focused residents. Remarkably however it actually seemed to work. Annie was so affronted at being brushed off so completely that she completely failed to respond. But I hoped to God Mrs Patterson tried it again because you might confound Annie once but the second time she would be lucky not to end up with a fork in the back of her hand. And that I'd pay to see.
“Lucy see if you can't find some more air freshener for the hall outside the lift,” she went on, “I caught quite a strong whiff of, unpleasantness out there,” she wrinkled her nose, causing some more of the surrounding foundation to crack, “That does not create a good impression now does it? We don't want visitors or Mr Anderson to smell anything like that when he arrives.”
“Shouldn't have put the lift next to the bogs then,” I mumbled under my breath.
“What was that?” Mrs Patterson demanded. I felt another jab under the table from Lucy's foot, but what the hell this was the first time I had enjoyed myself all morning. Pointing out the obvious flaws in managements great schemes was becoming a bit of a sport with me. I think there was a part of me knew it was eventually going to lead to trouble but did it anyway. It wasn't that my mouth was faster than my brain it was worse than that, my brain was as suicidal as my mouth “The lift. They built it right next to the largest toilet and the closest one to the lounge,” I explained, “On a floor full of incontinent people. Of course its going to smell of piss. No amount of freshener is going to hide that. People could be choking to death on freshener and they'll still be able to smell the piss.”
“If residents were toileted on time perhaps we wouldn’t have the problem in the first place,” she countered.
“On time?” I said incredulously. “They don't take a piss according to one of your schedules.” That got me another kick from Lucy to shut up.
“All residents should be toileted between 10am and 11.30am,” Mrs Patterson replied stabbing at her clipboard, “And again between 1.30pm and 3pm and finally prior to bed at 7pm. Perhaps you should try reading the schedule I pin up on the noticeboard for staff every morning?”
“We have a noticeboard?” I said with mock surprise.
“Don't push it, “ she retorted, “I'll come back to you later.”
I wasn't sure what that meant but it sounded ominous. Lucy gave me a questioning look but I had no more idea than she did so I shrugged my shoulders back at her.
Mrs Patterson turned away from our table saying in parting “And please refrain from the use of bad language in front of the residents if you don't mind. If you must refer to such things in front of them call it urine.” Sometimes I wondered just what age she thought these people were.
In rather timely manner Annie had come back to what passed for her senses, and seemingly also to the realisation that she had been patted into submission, “Bloody Bitch!” she announced to the dining room.
“Annie, language! Now be quiet,” Mrs Patterson dismissed her again to further disgust of Annie who silently stewed. Patterson looked to her clipboard for focus. She seemed to find it there and continued on, “Right. Next item. The Fire Inspector is also here today. He will be using the Quiet Room to give a talk on fire safety, which all staff have to attend. There will be one at 10 and again at 11,” she paused to unclasp a single sheet of paper from her clipboard and handed it to Lucy, “You can sort out who is going to which Lucy and fill this in to mark attendance,” she smiled sweetly but with no warmth. Lucy took the form without much enthusiasm. 10 and 11 were normally first breaks. However she arranged things it was not going to make her popular. The thought of a cup of hot sweet tea and a quiet cigarette outside in the real, sane world was what kept most of us going through the morning.
“There will also be a fire drill this afternoon at 2. And those who have still to attend the lifting and handling refresher must do so at 3.30, as its the last chance to do so.”
This got me another flash of lipstick but this time in the company of a scowl. I had been putting off going so far, it was a complete waste of time but it looked like there was no avoiding it this time.
“Everyone has to complete the course,” she unclipped another sheet of paper and also gave it to Lucy, “I want a list of everyone who has attended. And finally, Reports must be filled out for every resident at the end of every shift. And filled out properly. I should not have to be reminding you all of this again. They are essential when the Care Commission visit. And just to remind you all once more, we will have someone from Head Office here today so make us all proud of our new Home. Any questions?”
Lucy shot me a 'don't you dare' look but I couldn't stop myself, there was that suicidal thing in my brain at moments like these. I put my hand up as if I was in school. Mrs Patterson turned to me with a 'I might have known' expression on her mask like face, “What?” she asked in a contemptuous tone.
Lucy kicked me again under the table but it was already to late I'd gone this far, “Have you earmarked any time on your schedule for looking after the residents?” I asked innocently.
My question hung in the air. Lucy shook her head, Stacy was trying not to smirk and Agnes from the bottom floor looked like she wished she was back there and was staring straight down at the laminate floor. The sound of slurping chewing and clinking of spoons seemed suddenly very loud. But instead of answering Mrs Patterson looked down at her clipboard, she slowly flicked over a page letting the moment drag and then said, “Who got Olly up this morning?” with a deadly cold tone.
I had a sudden sickening feeling things were about to go wrong, Lucy gave me her 'I tried to warn you' face finished with a shoulder shrug. “I did,” I replied suspiciously.
“And who got Bob up?”
She already knew. She bloody well knew I had. Why couldn't I keep my mouth shut? Whatever trap she had laid for me I'd let my mouth walk me right into it. “I did,” I said again.
“Not good enough!” she barked with a volume, sternness and severity that made staff and residents a like sit bolt upright. As a manager it was her strongest card that tone of voice, and she knew when to play it, “Come with me. Out here now. I want to speak to you.”
It was like being back at school. She had an uncanny knack for making you feel 12 again, paraded out in shame before your peers, and worse in this case, the residents. Dementia or not there were some residents you needed to project authority over to get their acquiesces. This sort of thing undermined you as a Carer. Fine if she wanted to speak to me, take me aside after breakfast when the residents were dozing in their chairs under newspapers that would be fair. But being dragged to heel before them was demeaning. It made me seethe.
But it was also often the residents who spoke for you in such moments as only they can. I got up from my seat, putting down the spoon much to the disappointment of Margaret who already had her mouth hanging half open in anticipation of the next spoon full, which now would probably be cold by the time I was back and she got the rest of, when Bob tugged on my uniform and in a whisper as loud as a normal person trying to be heard in a crowded room said, “Tell her to go fuck herself.”
Mrs Patterson was flabbergasted and all she could respond was by shrieking “Doctor Robert Macleod!” in outrage. Stacy got the giggles.
“Thanks Bob, but I don't think I need to now,” I said patting his shoulder in a comradely fashion.
“I for one would like to see that,” Davy politely chipped in from his table, “with a cucumber.”
Stacy unable to contain herself snorted with laughter.
“Mr Campbell!” Mrs Patterson said turning her glare on Davy now, “I thought we had already talked about such comments. And Stacy, grow up girl.”
Lucy lent across the table to tug Bob by the shirt collar so he turned to face her, “Now Bob you can't say that. That's terrible language to use in front of the ladies. And you are supposed to be a Doctor as well.” Bob looked suitably sheepish, but then Lucy was showing a lot of cleavage as she leant across and I'm not sure if it was that which had subdued him or her words, it certainly momentarily distracted me.
Stacy composed herself as best she could but a smirk kept threatening to break out at any moment. Mrs Patterson stormed passed both Bob and I and barked “With me,” over her shoulder. I followed in her wake trying not to catch the eye of anyone as I left.
I thought she would just take me into the empty lounge, maybe even the hall. But when she got into the corridor she kept going without a word and I followed behind in mounting suspicion.
Eventually I realised she was leading me to Olly's room. And indeed when we got there she threw open the door and strode in. I followed. Mrs McCarthy the head cleaner was already in there. This wasn't a trap after all I realised, it was a bloody ambush.
Mrs Patterson walked around to the far side of the bed and pointed at something on the floor in the corner. I walked around to see what it was. There was a bedside table on that side with a lamp on it, it had a drawer in it and stood on four legs. Underneath the legs was a large pair of originally white y-front underpants, stained yellow and sodden with piss. Round this side of the bed I could even smell its acrid aroma.
“What is that doing there?” Mrs Patterson demanded.
“One of my cleaners could have touched that,” Mrs McCarthy put in, “there could be anything lurking on it.”
“Well God forbid they actually have to clean something up,” I retorted.
“Don't give smart answers I am warning you,” Mrs Patterson scolded, “the cleaners do not clean up anything which is soiled. That is your job. Do you know how badly that would go against us if there was a Care Commission inspection? If they found something like that lying about a room? You just refuse to follow procedure.”
“It happened because I wasn't really getting Olly up, “ I protested, “it was just I was the only one who could get him calm. I hadn't even started my shift.”
“Who washed him? Who dressed him?”
“I did, but..”
“No buts. You did. So it was your room. And cleaning up all soiled garments in the room was therefore your job. And you didn't do it, again. And once again I have Mrs McCarthy coming to me with her cleaners upset to complain about you. Why does that keep happening?”
“Maybe you should ask her,” I said glaring at Mrs McCarthy whose enjoyment of my situation was written all over her face.
“Follow me,” Mrs Patterson said and left the room. I went with her as did Mrs McCarthy. We went back down the hallway and around the corner, to Bob's room this time. Patterson went straight through the bedroom to the bathroom. I followed her. She pointed to a heap in the corner. It was Bob's shit filled nappy, water had got into it and long winding brown streak led away from it to the drain.
“Would you care to explain what that is doing in here?” Patterson demanded.
“I meant to come back for it,” I began, I was about to say that I had had to go help Lucy with the broken hoist, but that risked being questioned about that and we have definitely broken at least one Health and Safety rule by tipping the machine to get Martha out of it and we hadn't filled out an incident report for it, or for Olly, or Annie for that matter. Even if we'd felt inclined to there simply wasn't the time. But even so I didn't really want to go down that route so I hesitated. Unsure what to say to defend myself. Which was infuriating, I'd already had a bloody hard morning putting in more work than she would in a day of paper shuffling and long before any Management had even entered the building.
“That's all you have to say is it?” she snapped, “You meant to come back? If you followed procedure the room would have been already cleaned before you left it. Can't you for one minute get into your thick head that we cannot have filthy stinking nappies lying about the Home? What if that had still been there when Mr Anderson from Head Office gets here?”
I bit my tongue. She had me. Doing my job, trying to achieve impossible time scales was the problem but there was little point trying to persuade Patterson of this, better to take the sermon in silence now. But I didn't get the sermon, instead she said, “I am giving you a written warning about this.”
“What?” I said genuinely shocked.
“Maybe that will impress on you the importance of adhering to the schedules and following the guidelines. And maybe improve your attitude. That will be your second written warning now. Three strikes and you are out remember. Now get back to the dining room.”
I took a deep breath. My mouth was so very close to forming the words that would tell her where to stick her job, but the cold truth was I could not afford to do so. Mrs McCarthy was grinning at me smugly from ear to ear. I wanted to smash her witchy old face in. Somehow I got a hold of myself and stormed out of the room. By the time I got back to the dining room breakfast was all but over and they were onto the teas. I glanced up at the clock with the walnut surround, 9:35. Just under nine and a half hours left to go till the end of shift. If I made it that far.


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Post by Orwell Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:07 am

Copy, pasted, and to be read soon! Very Happy (Next couple of days when I'm not preoccupied and tired and the mood is right - work stinks! Sad )

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Post by Orwell Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:35 am

Soon... soon... Work is killing me... all is fatigue and negativity... no time for proper reading, but.... soon... soon...

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:52 pm

'fatigue and negativity at work' is oddly enough the theme of this new chapter! If nothing else maybe it will help by making you feel you are not alone in that Orwell.
But it might be for the best that you are pushed for time- this chapter is a rougher draft than the previous ones I posted, it had been so long since the last chapter I thought it better to put up what I had rather than nothing at all. But there is a sizeable(ish) insert to go after the opening paragrahps and some tweaking of the writing elsewhere.
Unfortuntely for redoing it and rposting it I have an old friend coming to stay for a few days so I doubt I will have the time- so its up to you Orwell if you want to go ahead and read whats there or hold out for the next draft of it towards the end of the week.

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Post by Orwell Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:37 pm

Aha! We must then wait and see what happenstance happens first, my fair Scotshobbit!

All I know is, when reading friend's work, if I'm in the right frame of mind, I feel I view things far more objectively.

My template is - and this may or may not be a good example - if I'm not in the right frame of mind, I'll read something and find much fault with it and be unduly negative and pessimistic about it, which will come out in my review. If I'm in the right frame, I might think, "Hey, I'm very pleased with that" and even if I see problems, they are rarely insurmountable. I suffer from a bad case of the "honesties" and if I read something in the wrong frame, I'm honest, but often negatively subjective as I alluded above. I did this once or twice with a friend's work and managed not only to deflate him, but deflate him unecessarily - his stuff was much better than I remembered on re-reading the same works in a better frame. I'm even overly picky and quite negative when I read my beloved Hobbit at times, believe it or not! Shocked So, rest assured, I'm keen to read the latest instalment of Home (a work I honestly think has been excellent so far) but I won't do so until I'm feeling right about reading it. Hope that makes sense and does not sound insulting in any way! Laughing

(I've got tomorrow off btw. It may be a time of the stars being in alignment, who knows, though tomorrow seems a long way away, what with the dread of work awaiting me in about an hour or so! Who knows what weft will warp my good intentions?Sad )!

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:45 pm

I understand you fully Orwell dear chap- can't read a thing until I'm on by tenth buckie. Just can't seem to concentrate.
{{{Glad to hear you've got some tim eoff- you seemed a tad snow under there for a bit}}}

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Post by Ally Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:51 pm

I pulled the very same trick when I said I couldn't review the person sitting next to me's English essay...like Orwell, I'd probably have put him off ever lifting a pen ever again! I'm cynical like that. Wink

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Post by Orwell Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:58 am

I'm finished for the day and will be early to bed tonight. Tomorrow I shall I arise, perfectly refreshed, I'm sure, and totally cynicism free. Then, my friends, then you shall see a keen but positive eye (... theoretically speaking - and Eru permitting!) Very Happy

Err.. Ally, I perceive a redheaded lass. No wonder you're feisty... My own little girl is reddish of hair and feisty too... Laughing (She is want to tell me she's all growed up, bein' 19 and all - "Growed up," I says, "I won't be having it, lassie! Mad )

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Post by Orwell Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:12 am

Some minor mishits and grammatical stuff to fix, but that's a purely editorial issue and hardly a telling concern, of course... Mate, this is top shelf stuff. cheers Have I said before? Suspect Probably ---- but it is!

Characters, description and story flow = topnotch.

I think of "Jack" and frown a bit now (you bastard).

Okay, if I must sit at your feet, I must.... Sad

Mind you, I have poetry in my story - but you don't, do you --- so there, take that! Mad

(Btw if you decide to put poetry in "Home", I'll have to kill you --- you know that, don't you! Very Happy )

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:16 pm

Yes its a little painful here and there, and its missing a chunk- um, in fact best no one ele reads it until I get the redo up tomorrow unless you happen to have an interest in the process I suppose.
In many ways this is the hardest chapter in it from a structural/technical point of view and its been a bit of a struggle so probably I shouldn't be entirely suprised that it needs a little extra attention still.

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Post by Orwell Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:52 am

{{{{Mmm.... bit quiet here... he must still be on the buckie....}}}}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Oct 04, 2011 11:40 am

Um, yes, a little tender still. Rewrite of the above will be up shortly, I hope.

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Post by Kafria Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:01 pm

Finally found the time to read the latest chapter.

Excellent as always. I had my eyes open goggling moments and those sinking into yourself, knowing what is coming and dreading it moments too.
Looking forward to the next one! Very Happy

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:08 pm

Thanks Kafria. I still have the rewrite to put up of that chapter- got tonight off so hopefully get some work on it later, if I dont get distracted first.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:15 pm

Um still not rewritten the above chapter- that may have to wait as new stuff keeps coming! Heres the latest chapter. Chapter 3 so right before 'The Death of John Stibbons'. And after the last chapter posted above.

3
Toileting, Fire Safety and Little Betty Bo.

The rest of breakfast went off without a hitch, those who finished first and could move under their own steam went back into the lounge. Stacy and Lucy began manoeuvring people from the breakfast tables as soon as the resident had finished eating, taking them into the lounge for another couple of hours in front of the TV. Breakfast television had given way to the thrills of a cheaply made antique based show called Cash in the Attic. Jeremy Kyle, Britain’s boorish answer to Jerry Springer would be on the other channel soon but we weren't allowed to have that on in case anyone got over excited or upset. But it would be followed by the generally gentile This Morning which was usually put on for the residents. Normally only the unemployed had such a grasp of daytime TV but in a Home its always there, marking out the stages of the day. The arrival of This Morning to the screen usually heralded break time, and I was already feeling the pangs of desire for a cigarette more than usual.
I helped Malcolm (who might have been tall or might have been short it was hard to tell as he walked everywhere bent almost double on his walking stick) from the table to a seat in the lounge and he sank gratefully down into the leather. As I turned to go back for another resident, Helen a little old lady who liked to wander the floor between meals, walked passed. We let her roam the corridors most of the time, she never got into mischief she just liked to walk. Management didn’t like it of course, they seemed to think residents wandering about made the place look untidy or something and preferred them either sitting quietly in the lounge or in their rooms. For that reason alone I encouraged her at every turn. “Off for your morning walk Helen?” I asked cheerfully.
“Yes,” she replied with a nod, “just popping down to the shops.”
“Very good, get us a bar of chocolate while you're there,” I smiled back as she wandered out into the main hall.
Olly, who had seated himself in the front row of seats facing the TV said, “C,can I have a bath?” in a hopeful rumble as I went by.
“No Olly,” I said stopping and turning, “its not even 10 in the morning yet mate.”
“C,can I have a cigarette?” he tried instead. As a smoker myself I was perfectly aware the best smokes of the day are those after a meal and I had sympathy for him here, plus there was no reason he shouldn't get one, except it would mean getting the keys from Lucy as the cigarettes, in a feat of great irony, were kept in the medicine cupboard and I didn't have the time. “Sorry Olly, soon ok? Soon as everyone is out of the dining room.” He looked crestfallen and let down, making me feel bad, so I turned away.
The furthest table in the dining room was already empty as was the table next to it. The feeders table had two residents at it, Mabel and Margaret. Agnes was sitting at the table with them still, giving Margaret the last of her thickened cup of tea in small sips.
Lucy and Stacy were helping a short fat women with a mass of grey hair whose name was Matilda into a lounge seat, Lucy glanced up at me, “Could you take Marjory straight to the toilet and get her a change, she's had an accident,” she said and nodded towards one of the remaining residents at a table.
I leant over so my head was low enough to peer under the table, the laminated floor of the dining room had a small yellow pool of piss on it. “Ahh,” I said and going over to the cabinet which was under the TV I took out a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle containing anti-bacterial cleaner. Marjory regularly pissed herself, however she was not officially, medically that is, incontinent. This meant the money given for her care did not include money for the incontinence pads she actually needed so she went without.
As I approached Marjory the man sitting next to her, Adam, who was a tall guy, well over 6' with a long droopy face and an equally droopy moustache began to stand up. I hurriedly put the bottle and roll of paper towels down on the table and made for him with a steadying hand, “Whoa there Adam, where you off to in such a hurry?” I asked slipping an arm around his waist and taking his left arm by the elbow.
Adam was a lovely guy, he rarely spoke and even when he did was a man of few words.
“What's your hurry, are your trousers on fire? You can't be that anxious to watch the crap that's on TV” I said gently guiding him out from behind the table and offering just enough support that he could manage himself.
“Aye,” he replied in a tone of voice that somehow managed to convey the exact opposite. He was master of sarcasm and dry wit was Adam, and his sort of humour was well aided by his physical appearance as the most miserable guy on the planet. Everything about him, from body to face was long and drooped, he had faded brown hair that hung lankly and he was bald at the crown, he had bushy eyebrows over deep set eyes with permanent bags under them, the lines at the corners of his mouth and eyes pointed downwards as if something were irresistibly pulling him earthward, even his ears were droopy. Yet under the bushy brown walrus moustache, which always reminded me of Paw Broon's from the Broons comics, there was almost always a sly smile and his eyes were always twinkling, as if he had seen the joke at last and it was everywhere he looked. However one thing about him was that he forgot with alarming regularity that he couldn't walk unaided. With a guiding hand and a bit of support he was fine but on his own he would get no more than a few steps before falling. And when Adam fell it was heavy, he fell like a tree going over and never made any attempt to cushion the blow. If you saw him go you had to fight an almost irresistible urge to shout “Timber!”
His method probably saved him a good few broken bones, most of the serious injuries from falling come from the natural reflex to stick your hands out and cushion the impact, but in an old body with brittle bones this was a sure fire way of breaking your wrists, or worse. Adam on the other hand just hit the ground with whatever bit of him made contact first, this left him with a lot of bruises but not any breakages. In fact as I got a hold of him and guided him out from behind the table I noticed the latest bruise, from a few days previous on the right side of his temple, had all but faded away, leaving just an off-yellow patch, almost perfectly circular, protruding from just under his hairline.
I got him safely to a seat and went back for Marjory. There was no problem with leaving Marjory waiting, it would make no difference to her. Marjory was fully able bodied and was another quiet one, in fact she never spoke, I had never heard her utter a single word. She existed in another world altogether. A world where she didn't apparently need words because there was always music in the air.
As I grabbed the roll of paper towels and bottle of spray and knelt down to clean up the urine she was conducting an invisible orchestra above me, her arms cutting strong and definitive patterns in the air and a dreamy rapt expression was on her face. She was a short woman with long grey hair which she wore tied back. Her wardrobe favoured tweed skirts and she was wearing a tartan one now, she had pale tan tights on which I noticed whilst I was down on my hands and knees had down her left leg a series of dark and wet streaks where the piss had run down. She had broad shoulders and this I suspected was partly down to her conducting habits. I had tried it once, copying her movements to see if I could work out what sort of music she was hearing, to see if I could get a feel for its rhythms by mimicking her movements, and it was surprisingly tiring work. Marjory kept it up for hours at a stretch without a break and with seeming ease.
Given Marjory was going to need a change of clothes I opted instead of using one of the toilets to take her to her room, which was at the far end of the corridor. She conducted and swayed her head in rapt silence the entire way. When I got her into the room I went into the en-suite and came back out with a large white bath towel which I spread on the bed. I then undid the buttons at the back of her skirt and let it fall and with one swift movement aimed at having as little contact with her damp underwear as possible I pulled tights and knickers down to her ankles in one swift movement. She had a surprisingly dark and thick tangle of pubic hair, I folded up a thick wad of toilet paper and quickly and efficiently wiped her dry between her legs, flushed away the used tissue and then sat her on the towel whilst I knelt down to take her shoes off and pull off the wet clothing.
The door to her room opened behind me, I glanced round to see one of the cleaners with a Henry Hoover at her side which seemed to be grinning at me, the cleaner looked alarmed to see me for some reason. As if she had suddenly and unexpectedly been confronted with a wild lion. She was a short stocky girl in her twenties whose name I had no idea of, I wasn't even sure if she was one of the fleet of Polish cleaners or a native. I waited for her to say something or do something but she just stood there so I decided to ignore her and went back to removing the tights and knickers from Marjory assuming the cleaner would just leave again. But she just continued to stand there. Eventually she said, “I have to clean,” I knew then at least that she was indeed Polish.
“Then you will need to come back,” I replied without turning around.
“No. I need to clean in here now,” she insisted.
I sighed in annoyance and turned to face her having successfully removed the offending items from Marjory which I sat next to me. Marjory momentarily ceased her conducting, maybe there was a break in the celestial concert she was in charge of, and did one of her other characteristic gestures, she held my eye, smiled at me knowingly and gently patted me on the cheek a couple of times. I smiled back at her, stood up and went to the chest of drawers in the corner for fresh knickers and tights and was pleasantly surprised to find both items were actually in there. Behind me Marjory took back up her invisible baton.
“You'll need to wait till I am finished,” I said to the cleaner glancing up at her, she still had that alarmed look on her face as if someone had just told her she had 10 seconds to work out Fermat's Last Theorem or she would be shot.
“Mrs McCarthy says I have to clean in here,” she said firmly, “And we are not to talk to you.”
“What?” I said, surprised if not shocked, “she's told you not to even talk to me? That old witch,” I said shaking my head. I saw a look of frightened consternation on her face, “why don't you run off back to Mrs McCarthy and tell her I said you were to go clean another room. I am using this one.” I went to the wardrobe and got another tweed skirt out of it almost identical to the one Marjory was originally wearing right down to the tartan.
“No, I have to clean in here now,” she repeated as if it were some sort of mantra. I ground my teeth this was really starting to piss me off and I could really do without it today.
“Look,” I said going over to her and she actually backed away a step bumping her back into the door, “I don't give a shit if Mrs McCarthy bawls you out for talking to me or for not cleaning this room, and I hate to be pulling rank but you are a cleaner, I'm a care worker and she,” I pointed at Marjory who was completely absorbed in her own melodies, “she is a resident. That makes her top dog, got it? This isn't your workplace this is her room. So I don't give a damn about what you have to clean or when. She need her room right now so go find another one,” she stared blankly back at me which made me angry, “GO!” I snapped in a voice louder and angrier than I had actually meant to be and she jumped, “Just, bugger off ok?” I said in a gentler voice.
She stared at the floor a moment as if afraid to look me in the eye and then without a word she opened the door and exited dragging her Henry behind her, which caught in the closing door which was spring loaded. I held the door open for her till she was gone then let it slam shut. I put a hand to my forehead and rubbed it and then went back to Marjory. I led her into the bathroom where I wiped dry her bum and applied some talcum powder to it in a generous white cloud then I gave her a quick spray of perfume top to bottom before dressing her again.
I was just leading her out of the toilet when the door to the room opened again, Lucy stuck her head round it, “Why has Anna just gone by my desk in tears?”
“Ah fucking hell!” I said in exasperation, “I take it Anna is one of the cleaners?”
“What did you say to her?” Lucy demanded but she didn’t look angry so much as amused, none of us had much time for the cleaning crew and as far as Lucy was concerned cleaners were not her problem and therefore not on her radar.
“Nothing really, she wanted to clean up in here, I told her she'd have to wait till I was finished,” I explained with a shrug.
“And that made her cry?”
“ Well I might have been a bit, snappy, about it,” I admitted bending down to gather up the wet bundle of clothes.
“Well on your head be it when Mrs McCarthy hears about it. I need you to go do Betty Bo next, nobodies been in to her yet, take her tray down with you,” she didn't wait for a reply but disappeared behind the closing door, a second later her head popped back round, “Oh and dress her in something nice, remember her family is coming later this morning.”
“Shit! I'd forgotten about that. Fantastic. I can't wait to see her face. You better get one of the girls to do her make up though she always looks like the last clown to be picked for the worlds worst circus by the time I've finished with her.”
“Tell Stacy to go do it whenever she's finished that stupid Fire Safety briefing, your up for the next one by the way at 11. Don't be late Patterson'll have kittens,” she disappeared again.
I took Marjory back to the lounge and got her into a seat over by the window. She gazed out of it, still conducting as she sat. I followed her gaze. Outside the sun was up but in a thick grey sky. It was threatening rain and from here you could see the main road at the end of the Home's drive, people busily toing and froing along it in their vehicles, out in the sane world. Beyond the road the sea glittered and a strong breeze had flecked it with rough white. Sun light broke through the clouds in great shafts of shifting yellow light. I turned away from the window just as the theme tune of This Morning began on the tv and I acutely felt the need for a cigarette I knew I would not be getting for some considerable time, that in turn reminded me I had promised Olly one. I went to Lucy's desk just outside the lounge, she was not there but I knew where the keys were. Only Seniors and nurses were allowed access to the medicine cupboard but in practice Lucy gave me the keys regularly to go get stuff, still I had to keep one eye out for signs of Mrs Patterson as I stole into the medicine cupboard which was large enough that you walked right into it. I unlocked the padlock on the metal wall cupboard in there and took a cigarette out from Olly's packet, locked the cupboard and turned to go put back the keys. Mrs McCarthy was standing right behind me.
“Your not allowed in there,” she said smugly.
“And you're a miserable old crone but what are we going to do about it?” I replied and made to stride passed her.
“You can't talk to me that way,” she demanded haughtily.
“I could easily talk to you a lot worse Mrs McCarthy, lets not bother pretending we like each other,” I fired back, I saw no point in trying to be nice with her any more. She had decided she was out to get me no matter what I did or said. Even so a bit of my brain was desperately trying to flag up the risk of over antagonising her.
“You upset Anna, she says you shouted at her,” Mrs McCarthy accused.
“I never shouted at her, anyway she was getting in the way of me doing my job.”
“And what about her being able to do her job?” she countered.
I leant in closer to her, she held her ground and didn't flinch her hard bitten face firm set, “I don't give a rats arse about her doing her job and I couldn't give a rat's arse about your job either. Whatever it is you actually do around here, if anything. But I do give a rat's arse about my residents so if you don't mind I need to go care for some right about now.” I pushed by her and returned the keys to the drawer in the desk.
“I'll be speaking to Mrs Patterson about this,” Mrs McCarthy called after me in warning tones.
“Like I didn't know that already,” I said walking away.

I went back to the door of the lounge and waved the cigarette at Olly, he slowly pushed himself up from his chair and lumbered towards me grinning. His shirt had become untucked from his trousers and I stopped to tuck it back in and straighten him out, he stood patiently whilst I did so then I led him down the corridor to the smoking room and left him happily puffing away and staring out the window. The rain I had thought was threatening had begun but it was just a light drizzle that splattered against the glass.

Little Betty Bo's room was at the other end of the floor from the smoking lounge, back passed the main desk and down the other corridor opposite the lounge doors. I walked briskly along the corridor and through the open double fire doors with a small spring in my step. Even just knowing whose room it was I was going to next had lightened my mood.
Little Betty Boo. Her real name was not Betty Bo of course, although it was Betty. The Bo was an addition of the staff's and the little both because she was and because it was endearing. Endearing was a good word for Betty.
I opened the door to her room, I didn't bother knocking as there was no point. I had a tray with me with some orange juice on it, a jug of milk, a tea pot, cup and saucer and a bowl of rice kripsies which were her favourite cereal and two bits of toast with marmalade sitting on a plate. The curtains were closed in her room and it was still dark in there.
“Morning Betty,” I called out cheerfully and a happy “Bo, bo,boo” burbled out of the dark to greet me. For someone who was a mute and partially deaf with only variations on the word bo for communication she could get a lot into the sounds. In every 'bo' was the sense she was overjoyed to see me. She made you feel like out of all the people in the world she would most like to see, you were it.
I flicked on the light and went over to the bedside. Betty was only four foot or so, no one knew exactly as it was impossible to measure her. She had been born not only deaf and mute but with a deformed spine so that she was forced into a fetal position, over the years she had become completely fixed in that position and could not straighten in any way. The main risk for her health therefore was bed sores, she was a mass of pressure points, raw red patches on her hips, elbows, bum, shoulder blades and the edges of her spine that without constant attention could form ugly black holes that at their worst would go right through to the bone and become festering and puss filled. She had long delicate fingers and thin bony arms with sinewy muscles. But her eyes were alive, sparkling and seemed always to be filled with the sort of inquisitive wonder you only normally see on the faces of small children. But of all her features it was her smile that was most striking. Some smiles can light a room. Betty's lit up your heart.
There were times when you were feeling down and you saw someone whom life had dealt a terrible hand and you felt better because it reminded you things weren't as bad for you as they could be, but Betty's effect was not like that at all. Her smile made you feel better because it said look how bad things can be and I can still be joyous. Look how happy you can be, just to be. There was almost something spiritual being in the presence of Betty. One doesn't expect to walk into a room and find Joy living there in the body of a cripple. But that was Betty.
Born this way, with unknown mental issues, abandoned to the state care system as a toddler when her unmarried mother could no longer cope. It was impossible to comprehend the sort of hardships she may have endured. The care system was bad enough now but it was a nightmare back in the 50's and 60's, Betty had spent thirty years in an asylum with all sorts of procedures like hosing down that would be unacceptable now, not to mention the horror tales of abuse of vulnerable victims you heard of. And none were as vulnerable as Betty. And yet here she was, filled with happiness and joy, every single day and sharing it without favour or prejudice with whoever came into her room.
I sat her breakfast tray down on the bedside table. I looked down at Betty lying on the bed, she was curled of course, on her right side so her curved back was to me, even through the sheets I could see the sharp points of her vertebrae arching round. She had her head half turned so she could see me. I stuck my hand under her bed sheets and gently pressed my hand against her behind, I could feel the bulk of her overnight pad through her underwear, the pants were dry but the pad felt warm and heavy. She was probably soiled, it was a ten minute job getting her cleaned, and if I was going to do that I'd be as well getting her washed and dressed, that was nearer twenty minutes, by which time her toast and tea would be cold, both of which she enjoyed. I decided she would not come to any harm waiting another ten minutes for a change and opted to give her breakfast first.
“You wanting breakfast in bed Betty?” I said pointing to the breakfast and then at the bed, “Or in your chair?” I said pointing to a large armchair with a foot rest attached.
“Bo,boo,boo,” she said insistently pointing with a long slender finger at the chair.
“Chair it is,” I replied with a smile. Going by the book I should have gone and got a hoist to move her, but she weighed next to nothing and was so small I could carry her as if she was a child, besides she seemed to enjoy it as a child would. She draped her long thin arms around my neck, her knees were curled against my chest and I had one hand under her behind to support her. I caught a whiff of her nappy contents. I'd need too try to get breakfast over with quickly.
“Here we go,” I said and she burbled happily and pressed her head in against my neck. I took her over to the chair and then lifted her down gently onto it. I pulled a small table to her side and put the tray on it. I poured some milk into the Rice Krispies causing them to crackle and pop and she “Boo, booed” at that and clapped her hands in delight.
I spoon fed her the cereal with slurps of tea in-between spoonfuls and then slowly but steadily she munched her way through the toast, that took about fifteen minutes, leaving me about fifteen before I had to attend this stupid fire safety briefing.
I lifted her once again and took her through to the toilet. There was a knack to getting her nappy off whilst still holding her which I had long since mastered, it fell to the floor with a heavy thud which told me it was full without me having to see it, although I could smell it anyway. I plonked Betty down on the toilet seat. “Boo, bo boo!” she protested at the sudden coldness of the enamel against her cheeks.
“Sorry Betty, it'll warm up,” I reassured her as she began to noisily piss.
I left her to it and went back in to her room to go through her wardrobe. When I first started in care I was terrible at choosing outfits for the women but my eye had improved over the years, prolonged ridicule from the female staff helped with that.
I was taking especial care today because today was a special day. For most of her time in care it has been assumed Betty did not have any living relatives. But this turned out to be the case only because nobody had bothered trying to look very hard. Her mother's name was recorded on her birth certificate although not her fathers. And it was true her mother had died many years ago, but her mother had a sister, that sister was also dead but she had married and had children first.
Lucy and I tracked them down several weeks ago, on our breaks and lunchtimes I might add as Management did not think it an appropriate use of our time when we were on duty. We had several phone conversations with her relatives, who lived in Yorkshire. They were amazed to find they had a long lost relative and we had carefully lain the groundwork over the weeks preparing them for her physical state but encouraging them to visit and telling them all about her, well I say we, Lucy had done most of the talking. And today was the day they were coming to visit.
I found a nice blouse and a matching skirt with one of Betty's favourite cardigans to go over the top and fetched a day-pad from out of the bottom of the wardrobe. It had a strip on the back which I peeled off to reveal a sticky surface, I opened up the knickers I had gotten for Betty and stuck the pad to the gusset and pressed it firmly down so the material stuck to the sticky strip on the pad and went back into the toilet and dressed Betty.
She fussed for a bit over different jewellery. She loved bangles even though they hung in huge loops on her stick thin arms she had a wide assortment, picking ones for the day was a favourite part of her morning ritual.
I went through the drawer of them for her, holding each up in turn and she pointed and “Boo, bo” in a happy way for one she wanted and give me a disgruntled “Bo, bo,” if not and a shake of a long finger.
Eventually she had picked the ones she liked and I carried her back to her chair, this time to the accompanying jangle of the bangles.
Betty had two favourite things in the world, one was she loved to draw. Well scribble really, she just held the pen in her hand and made shapes and lines with no discernible patterns. She had a big pile of colouring books full of scribbles on very page and a set of pens and a box of crayons. I put one of the colouring books before her and helped her get a blue felt tipped pen into her hand, she grasped it firmly and began drawing immediately, cooing softly to herself.
Her other favourite thing was cartoons. She loved cartoons. Beneath her tv she had what was, by now, an ancient video recorder. DVD's had not made it as far as Betty's room. Managements logic to this was that all her cartoons were on vhs and so replacing the video recorder would mean replacing the cartoons as well and that was money out of her monthly budget. I put a tape into the machine, a Warner Bros collection. It was amazing how you forget just how chunky everything used to be as I shoved with a bit of force the tape into the machine and it began playing. As the copyright came up on the screen I thought it was also amazing how you forget how poor the quality of tape was, but then I didn't suppose Management took that into account when making Betty's financial decisions for her.
I was stripping the bed and stuffing the sheets into a black bag when Stacy came into the room. She had a make-up bag with her and a hair-dryer.
“Bo, bo, bo” Betty called out delighted to see her and then pointed me out to her in case she hadn't noticed me, “Bo, bo” she said pointing at me, then she noticed the make-up bag and the dryer, “Bo, boo, bo?” she asked.
“Yeah its for you Betty,” Stacy said, “you're going to get pampered. I'm going to do your nails too, give you a bit of colour on them, and I'll do your hair too” Stacy said sitting down next to Betty and taking a range of nail varnish bottles in a rainbow of shades out of the bag, Betty immediately started going along the row pointing, “Boo, boo, bo” she exclaimed happily when she found a deep purple colour she liked.
“I'll dump these sheets and leave you two to it,” I said grabbing up the bag, “Bye Betty,” I called and waved at her.
“Bo, bo?” she asked and held up the bottle of varnish for me to see.
“I'd love to stay Betty but I got to get on, sadly. I'll be back to see you later. Got a surprise for you,” I teased.
“You've to get to the Fire Safety Meeting Lucy says,” Stacy said as I went to leave, “no excuses,” she added.
“I'm going. Look, this is me going,” I said and left the room.

The Fire Safety Meeting was being held in the quiet lounge. There were two lounges solely for use of guests. When people came to visit their loved ones, those who bothered that is, they could sit in the main lounge with them- almost no one choose this options, not least because it only took once and then being accosted by Annie or confronted by someone deciding the waste-paper basket was a toilet to make sure they never choose it as an option again. The other option was to take them to their room, but this was sometimes not possible if the room was being cleaned or some necessary repair was being carried out in it or more commonly because it still stank of piss and/or shit from the morning.
The most favoured option was one of the lounges. The quiet lounge was the smaller of the two. Normally it had four large tables in it with chairs around them and table cloths on the tables with delicate vases of flowers as their centre pieces. But for the meeting the tables had all been cleared into the corner and their seats arranged in two rows before a TV and DVD player, the curtains had been drawn over the windows and a white board stood next to the TV. On it had been written various colours and the fire extinguishers associated with them and the sort of fires they dealt with. It was nothing I didn't already know, I had lost count over the years of the number of these Fire Safety meetings I had been forced to attend.
There were a few people already seated, Stewart and Thomas who worked in the kitchens were there looking bored already and three of the carers from the bottom floor who were huddled together as if for protection on this foreign floor of the Home. The Instructor, who was also the local Fire Chief and had all the look of a man who had found himself giving talks late in his career and unlooked for, was patiently waiting until I closed the door and sat down and everyone shuffled to a respectful silence.
“Hello. I am Mark Anderson,” the Instructor said and patted his name badge pinned to his shirt, “this won't take up to much of your time you will be glad to hear. There's just a short presentation you have to watch then a question and answer session followed by a short talk. Ok then, let's crack on,” he crossed the room and switched off the light, plunging the room into a gloom lit only by the stark white static crackle of the TV screen.
Mark made his way back to the TV, thumping his knee into an empty chair on route and finishing the distance with a hobble. He pressed play on the remote control and the TV sprang into life.
It was an utterly dull piece of instructional video. The sort which proposes a question then gives you a list of options; “If you see a fire. What should you do first? A) Attempt to put it out. B) Call for help or C) Make your way to the designated area and raise the alarm. You were supposed to pause the tape after these for discussion, but Mark mercifully didn't bother.
I was just using the opportunity this afforded to gently doze in the dark with my eyes and ears only half open when the film suddenly caught my attention. It had been droning on about moving patients who were in wheelchairs when it the voice over had said, “by law all the most vulnerable patients, those residence with poor mobility factors and who possess a high rate assistance factor must be located closest to the fire exits and wherever possible on the ground floor.”
I put my hand up and coughed, “Um, excuse me” I said. Mark paused the film, “Yes, do you have a question?”
“Aye,” I replied, “how come if the law says all the most vulnerable have to be on the ground floor and near the exits all the ones in this home are on the top floor and most of them nowhere near the exits.”
Mark looked flustered at this, “Well yes the law does say that, but its a recommendation, if it is not possible, which it can be for a number of reasons then there may be exceptions made,” he explained.
“A whole floor of exceptions? I mean you could just have everyone who is downstairs up here and swap them around, then all the most vulnerable would at least be on the ground floor,” I insisted.
There was a cough from the back of the room, not a natural cough but the sort of cough perfectly calculated to let you know someone is there attracting your attention by coughing. Mark flicked on the light and everyone squinted.
It was Mrs Patterson. When had she slipped into the room? When I was catching 40 winks? Had she seen that? She looked straight at me, “Could I speak with you a minute, outside,” she said coldly and held open the lounge door for me. I got up and went outside into the corridor.
“Why are you always making trouble?” she demanded immediately, pursing her vivid lips at me.
“I didn't know I was making trouble,” I said, “but what's the point of sitting in there listening to a talk about laws we ignore anyway? Its a waste of everyone’s time. And worse its got bugger all to do with caring for the residents.”
“Do you know why you keep ending up in my office?” she demanded, looking down her sharp nose at me, “it's because this is the game we all play, except you don't play it.”
“Yeah, well what if the game sucks?”
“I don't make the rules,” she retorted.
“No you just keep the game going along.”
“I don't rock the boat. You do. Do you want to be man overboard? Is that it? Because it's where you are heading. Think very carefully about that. Just play the game. This is a small town, there isn't a lot of work about and you might find if you get a bad report from me there will be even less around for you.”
She let this sink in, I kept my mouth shut for once, that last threat was all the worse for being true.
“I do not want to have to deal with you again today. Understood?”
“Loud and clear,” I said resignedly.
Went I went back into the meeting it was on the Q&A session. I kept my mouth shut and let others answer the inane questions before the whole thing wrapped up.
Lucy was waiting for me outside. “Again?” she said arching an eyebrow in a manner that was very sexy made even more so because she was slightly cross. She had the sort of face which did cross very well.
“How do you even know?” I began, “scratch that, I should know better nothing travels faster in here than news of a bollocking.”
“Was it a bollocking?” she asked still with arched brow.
“Nah, not really, more of a 'don't rock the boat' kind of thing,” I replied.
“Well don't then. Besides it's your turn with John,” she said.
“Can't I go for a cigarette first?” I said, and even saying the word I could all but taste it on my lips.
“Sorry, no time. Alma's already done nearly an hour more than she should have,” Lucy answered.
“Come on,” I pleaded, “five minutes longer won't make any difference to her now. It'll be two hours, that'll be lunchtime before I'm finished sitting.”
“Sorry but I need Alma on the floor now, Patterson is wanting me to go through the Monthly Reports with her and that means I need someone on the floor. And Stacy s doing Betty's hair. So that leaves you with John.”
“Fuck” I said with real feeling.
“Look on the bright side,” she said with a shrug, “he might die on you.”
“Oh thanks for that cheery thought,” I said and went to prepare a tray to take with me to John's deathbed.

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A Green And Pleasant Land

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Pettytyrant101
Pettytyrant101
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Post by Orwell Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:04 am

Nightshift nightshift nightshift... just home.... tonight ---- maybe .... 'bout time tho' Laddie! Very Happy

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Post by Pseudo-Kafria Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:40 pm

Still so tired ---- still so weak --- neeeeed sleeeep... but soooooon, sooooooooooon... Sleep

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Post by Orwell Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:42 pm

My goodness, it was almost like Kafria was talking for me just then... Shocked

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:44 pm

Sleep Sorry I'd nodded off myself from all the WAITING!!!

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A Green And Pleasant Land

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Post by Orwell Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:47 am

Oooooooh.... so we now know how it FEELS. Banghead

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Post by Orwell Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:22 am

Alright! I've read it now! Even though I'm still fatigued coming off nightshift!

And, because I felt bullied into it (really bullied!!!) I thought this : "I know what! I'll read his damn story and find as many faults with it as I possibly can!" That's what I thought... Evil or Very Mad

And I did!!! - typos, and a couple of tiny slight miscues but... well, it was brilliant as usual. Sad Even tired and grumpy I got sucked into these people's lives - and I was biting my nails too, worried that someone, who keeps getting in trouble, might get himself sacked because of his honesty! Honest people do cause trouble for other less honest people; you know that, don't you? Rolling Eyes -- Oh gawd! I suspect you already know that! Rolling Eyes No tact! No tact at all! None! Mad

Okay, you've had another win with this damn story of yours --- but you'll slip up sooner I later, I know you will. You can't keep up this standard of writing. No way!!!! Then who'll be laughing? Hey? Who? Me, that's who! Nod

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:45 am

Ssssh Orwell can't you see I'm writing!

(Thanks for reading as always, makes the whole process seem less isolated knowing I can get some sort of -almost Wink - instant feedback on here to it)

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Pure Publications, The Tower of Lore and the Former Admin's Office are Reasonably Proud to Present-



A Green And Pleasant Land

Compiled and annotated by Eldy.

- get your copy here for a limited period- free*

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yjYiz8nuL3LqJ-yP9crpDKu_BH-1LwJU/view



*Pure Publications reserves the right to track your usage of this publication, snoop on your home address, go through your bins and sell personal information on to the highest bidder.
Warning may contain Wholesome Tales
[/b]

the crabbit will suffer neither sleight of hand nor half-truths. - Forest
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