I got into trouble yesterday. I go and see a gentleman called Bill who lives in some flats. I’ve been going to him for years; I think I’m the only carer he sees. He’s a lovely man; very talkative and very knowledgeable about the world. He listens to the radio all the time – he has 5 radios in his house, all tuned to a different station and all on really loud and playing in different rooms in the house. He has Radio 5 in the living room, Radio 4 in the kitchen, LBC in the toilet (I hate LBC), Classic in the bedroom and Radio 4 Extra in the dining room. He’s always ready for a conversation; I think he plans the topic in advance so he can hit me with it as soon as I come through the door.
‘Rita,’ he says, ‘what do you think about such and such…?’ and then he’s off. He likes an argument so sometimes I adopt the opposite view from his just so we can spar a bit. The other day we had an argument about Europe; he thinks we should leave the EU but I’m not so sure; I think we should stick to what we know. He thinks we’ve lost our sovereignty and the Human Rights Act is ruining everything. I tried to tell him that the Human Rights Act is not a European Union thing but he won’t have it.
‘Anyway,’ I said. ‘We’ve still got the Queen and all her useless family so I don’t see how we’ve lost our sovereignty. If we stayed in the EU but voted to lose the Queen that would suit me just fine.’ (I am not a monarchist if you can’t guess). Bill didn’t like that – he loves the Queen and he especially likes the Duchess of Cambridge – he thinks she’s very attractive and he likes her frocks.
‘Nice frock,’ he’ll say, looking at her picture in the Daily Mail while I’m combing his hair. ‘Very nice filly.’
But Bill’s not the reason i got into trouble.
I’ve been seeing him regularly as I say and often when I go and see him I pass a man on the stairs or in the lobby. After I’d seen him a few times we said hello to each other and then we’d stop for a little chat and then we chatted for a bit longer. You know how it is. Now I look forward to seeing him and I think maybe he hangs around waiting for me to turn up. There’s nothing happening that I’m ashamed of; I’m not looking for a partner (even if that idiot Tim has lost interest in me) and he’s married. His name is Lionel by the way. We just like a little chat but other people don’t see it like that.
I got a call from the agency and they said I had to come into the office – there was something they needed to discuss. (This is something else I don’t get paid for incidentally and it costs me bus fair to get to the office).
‘We’ve had a complaint about you,’ said Jenny who’s the Co-Ordinator. Jenny’s not too bad usually but she’s no smarter than she needs to be, if you know what I mean.’
‘What about?’ I said.
‘We had an email from someone in the block where Bill _ lives saying that you were having a thing with a woman’s husband who lives in the same block.’
‘Are you serious?’ I said. I was livid – spitting fathers, as Albert said to me once. ‘I’m not having a thing with anyone. I just talk to him. Has Bill complained?’
‘No,’ said Jenny. ‘We spoke to bill and he’s really pleased with you. But I needed to talk to you; we’re getting a lot of hassle from these other people.’
‘Can I see the emails?’ I said.
‘Ummmm,’ said Jenny. ‘Let me just ask my Manager.’ She went and spoke to her Manager.
‘Yeah, I can show you,’ she said.
She turned her computer screen round so I could read them.
‘What are you going to reply?’
‘My Manager’s going to say that it’s none of their business. You’ve been going to see Bill for a number of years and he’s very pleased with you and this is a private matter and none of their business.’
‘I’m not having a thing,’ I said.
Some people, really, I couldn’t believe it!
I’m going to see Bill tomorrow. I hope I see Lionel; maybe we could go for a coffee.
uman Rights Act H