Me, myself and I

203 chairs 529999“It’ll be lunchtime soon. When they come round rattling the trolleys, waking up the old dears. Most of them can only just remember having breakfast. ’Cause all they do is sleep. TV’s on full blast. Wouldn’t wake the dead in here.

My little Johnny came to see me yesterday. Got a promotion, he said. Assistant Manager. Pleased as punch I was. Told him how proud. He blushed like a school boy. I remember when he wore short trousers. He had the funniest of knees. All knotted like an old oak tree. Hated swimming ’cause of his knees. Probably why he’s gone a bit porky. Still, he’s got a girlfriend so he doesn’t have to worry. She probably feeds him too much anyway. Not met her yet. He says she’s shy but how shy can she be? I’m only his old mum. Wouldn’t hurt a nit, I wouldn’t.

Suppose she’s busy. Social worker or something like that he said. She’ll be run off her feet. Just look at the specimens that come visiting in here. No control on their kids. Let them run around making all that noise. ’course no-one takes a blind bit of notice. But then they wouldn’t would they? Half of them don’t hear and the other half can’t see past the warts on their noses. Oh my God, some of them are so ugly. Urgh. Worse than that Queen Grimhilde in Snow White. We’ve got a resident called Hilda and she is grim. Face on her like… well, worse than the back end of a bus but then so would you if you’d got through six husbands. Six! Who’d marry her once, let alone six times?

Of course, I only had the one husband. My Billy. Ooh he was lovely. The apple of my eye was Billy. Died in service. I couldn’t be with anyone else after that. No-one could match up to him, could they? Not that he would have minded. Generous to a fault, was my William. He’d said that I should move on if anything happened to him. He wasn’t to know that he’d be dead six months later, was he? I always thought it would be his work that would kill him. But it was a career to him. Loved it, he did. “Can’t see myself being anywhere else” he’d say and he died doing what he loved.

The number 27 it was. His bus. How ironic. Stepped out in front of it when his colleague was reversing. Didn’t look, did he. Silly Billy. Still, he left me a good pension and I can’t complain.

That Mrs Beech is at it again. I do wish she’d stop doing that. Drives me round the bend. Wish someone would take that remote control off her. Not that anyone’s watching the damn thing anyway. I think they just like noise. The ones that can hear of course. And the ones that are awake.

The menu says it’s going to be fish and chips. As long as the peas are garden and not the mushy slop we usually get. And the fish had better be breaded not battered. They do the batter too greasy. Don’t like grease. Have to wash my hands afterwards. Makes my skin all blotchy and got to keep my skin clear, haven’t I. Never know when a Billy mark 2 might land here. They’re all like aliens. Most of them on another planet, away with the fairies. Some believe in them too, others talk to them. I don’t talk to no-one. No-one got nothing to say in here.

So I keep to myself. Me, myself and I. And that suits me just fine. The only time I get a decent conversation. Apart from my Johnny but he’s busy with his shop. He gets here when he can and I understand that. Oh, and there’s the lady with the library trolley. Margaret. Bit barking but lovely. Calls me Ethel. Keep telling her my name’s Ginger but no, keeps calling me Ethel. Still, if it makes her happy. I just smile and she goes on her way to the next poor old soul.

Then there’s Mr North, the Manager. Always on my case about my room. “Can’t have it looking like a tip Mrs Rogers,” he tells me. “It’s not a tip,” I tell him. “It’s my stuff. Got to have my stuff around me.” “But you’ve got to be respectful to Mrs Brown,” he tells me. “I am!” I say, but he won’t listen. Nobody listens to me so I don’t bother. You soon learn in a place like this. Got experience, you see. Seen the insides of a few of these ‘establishments’. Think they’re doing us a favour by having us here but we pay for the privilege. My Billy’s pension won’t last forever, then I’ll be out on my ear. Never mind, Johnny will see me right. I can look after him. Give him proper meals. None of that stodge or those little white boxes that you put in the microwave and zap it to death so it hisses when it comes out the other end. Three square meals a day. That’s what I was always taught. And it didn’t do my Billy any harm.

Oh look, there’s our lunch. Well, nice speaking to you, Ethel. Same time tomorrow? Lancashire hotpot then spotted dick for afters. Lovely.”

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