Week One

My brother Chris picked me up from my London home, tarrying there long enough to climb a ladder and lift some of my memorabilia and other treasures into the very high cupboards I had fitted in my kitchen area a while back. Neither of us like ladders. I stood on the floor, bravely holding the ladder with one hand and placing the other hand reassuringly on Chris’ strong, manly leg! In other words I was as much use as a chocolate fireguard. I love my bro!!!

Once we arrived at Dad’s house Chris performed “a handover”, which is what proper professional carers do. We are now part of the army of informal carers who support the economy and, hidden to most economic reckoning, save the taxpayer, whoever “he” is, a fucking fortune. Chris and I try to emulate what professional carers do.

When someone says carer to you, what comes to your mind? Perhaps you imagine an angelic-type person who mops brows and holds hands. In that you would be right.

But do you know that that angel also mops piss and wipes shit? That she sits for half an hour, an hour, longer, persuading her client to eat? That when she’s cleaning her client’s bottom and washing them, she also monitors carefully for incipient bedsores (you think bedsores are minor? Think again.)

She also administers prescribed drugs, clearing up vomit, dealing with shit, both literal and verbal. You could be changing person’s continence pad and all the time they will be cursing you for your ethnicity (“you black cow”) and yet you must remain courteous, practical and professional throughout.



and hostility (racist hostility too – I am so glad my parents never went there, but it happens, A LOT!) And it requires those STRONG “soft, girly, fluffy” skills of holding the hand of a dying man who doesn’t know exactly where he is and is terrified We have learned that from the succession of amazing women who have looked after our parents these last few years. A professional handover is one of the things that good carers do.

The best bit of this handover was Chris’ instructions to download EZVIZ and log in to the webcam he has set up to observe the nest of robins just outside one of our back doors. Over the years my parents’ domain has extended slightly randomly. Dad built sheds to contain the stuff he might one day need for build ing further sheds