I’ll Miss You More Than You Know
As I walk into the hallway, I can hear something rattling. “It’s this way,” the old lady in the tea cosy hat says, briskly. “I hope you won’t take too long about it, my husband’s used to me bringing his breakfast up nice and early – but the agency said you wouldn’t come earlier than 7.30am. Got kids I suppose? Anyway, here we are.” She takes my elbow and guides me into a large kitchen that’s seen better days.
“I can do the cooking but my knees aren’t what they were – I’ve got a stairlift now and it’s hard to balance an egg on those.”
The source of the rattling is perched on an old gas hob, a battered dark green pan whose lid is doing a crazy dance on top of the boiling water. She turns it off. “Whoops! His egg’ll be overdone again.
“So, as I told them on the phone,” she fishes the egg out with a teaspoon and leaves it rolling on the worktop, “you just need to come in and do breakfast, then get him up out of bed. Once he’s downstairs I can look after him.
“You’ll be alright with that egg will you? The bread’s in the fridge, just cut him a few soldiers – don’t toast them, he won’t like that – and then stick the egg just on the plate. There were some egg cups around but I don’t know what he does with them. Eats them instead of the eggs, I expect!”
With that parting shot, she shuffles off into the living room and I’m left to wrestle with the egg. It’s extremely hard to serve egg and untoasted soldiers with any finesse if you’ve got nothing to put the egg in.
I make the old chap a cup of tea and head upstairs. It’s a two up, two down sort of place so it’s not hard to spot the bedroom. I knock on the door, wait briefly for a reply, then when nothing’s forthcoming, push the door open.
It’s very dark inside, the thick curtains drawn tight, and it’s hard to squeeze past the foot of the bed. I can’t see a light-switch anywhere so, to make life easier, I put the tray on the floor and pull back the curtains slightly to find I am standing on a tiny little island of carpet, my feet surrounded by tray after tray, plate after plate of eggs and soldiers in various states of decay.
The sheets are almost flat on the bed. Almost but not quite. I steel myself and have a quick peek. It’s immediately apparent that Mr Phillips has not been capable of eating an egg for quite some time.
Downstairs, something starts to rattle. “I’m just doing him another egg,” she shouts up the stairs, “to be honest he could do with fattening up a bit.”