Written by tjmstroud
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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Dear Constituents

I have had a very hectic week or so and please excuse the wet smudges on this newsletter as I admit to feeling unusually sad at the moment.

Living disguised as eighty-six year old Ada Marples in Grey Gables Old Person's Home has had a profound, emotional effect on me and I am beginning to question the value of continuing as your elected member. Would I be better working for Help the Aged? If so, I'll need to check their salary scales and benefits package.

I am an active sort of person as you know and need constant stimulation of one sort or another but at Grey Gables I found that time was dragging. Even my plans for a strike to demand improved facilities such as a decent mobile phone signal and a toilet seat that didn't fall down failed.

One morning, being just one of thirty old ladies, we sat around staring at one another and at the red, tartan carpet.

I was itching to delve into my brown handbag for my Blackberry to email Anthea (my PA and Research Assistant) in Westminster as I was concerned what she might have been getting up to in my absence. She had told me she had started to fancy Vince ever since he had claimed that Tories always became sexually aroused at the thought of firing workers.

All I had to occupy my thoughts was the pattern on the carpet - McTavish tartan or just McDonalds - the grey fluff on my Grey Gables' slippers and the hairpin in my grey wig that kept sticking into my skull.

It was Peggy (bronchitis - possibly pneumonia) who broke the silence.

"What shall we do today?" she coughed and wheezed.

A few heads rose slowly up from the carpet to see who had spoken (most couldn't see anyway) whilst other heads stayed looking at the carpet. I flicked another piece of loose fluff off my left slipper and shouted out in my best tremulous croak, "Let's go on strike."

"Hooray!" said Beatrice who was still staring at the carpet and was known to say "Hooray" at everything and nothing and at any time of the day or night.

"After Bingo," said Elsie.

Bingo came and went and it is worth pointing out here that I, of course, won.

This is not because I am better at Bingo you understand but because it was Cyril who was calling the numbers and he had already given me a heads up on the order he was planning to call them out. Cyril couldn't possibly have seen the numbers anyway but no-one questioned it.

I also need to point out that my prize gave me some cause for concern.

It was Mrs Rickets who presented it to me.

"Well done dear, I could see you were a clever old soul when you joined us. But we only do it for a bit of fun, you know. You seem very competitive for your age and as desperate to win as my ex-husband. You must let the others win sometimes. And don't shout 'Bingo!' so loud - it frightens Beatrice."

I thought the importance of letting others win sometimes was only taught in schools these days but it seems the over eighties are required to do this as well. Is it any wonder we've lost our competitive edge?

However sometimes Grey Gables is run like a concentration camp or, at least, like PM questions when the little upstart Bercow gets going.

Since arriving here I've half expected Mrs Rickets to start shouting "Order! Order!"

However, let me explain more about my hard earned prize.

On receiving it I wasn't sure whether to brandish it above my grey wig as if I'd just won the Cup Final or hide it beneath my skirt.

You see, dear constituents, my prize was an object, clearly homemade by someone with a particular skill in creating soft toys made out of strands of old wool and stuffed with straw. This highly accomplished craftsperson was also someone who had clearly not followed trends in ethnic diversity legislation for at least thirty years.

My prize, I regret to announce was an object we used to call in those far off and pre-racial discrimination and ethnic diversity days a…..a… Golliwog………. Sorry! Hush my mouth and wash it out with Dettol.

Needless to say I was so embarrassed in case I got reported to the Race Relations Board with all the obvious implications for my hopes for re-election, that I immediately stuffed it up my skirt and inside my knickers where I could feel it clinging to my private parts.

This not unpleasant feeling persisted for a while until I felt it gradually slide down my leg where it eventually appeared to be waving at everyone from behind my left knee.

As it came into view, it also seemed to be laughing hideously through its bright red lips. It was then that I also realized it was its mop of curly black hair that had been rubbing against my crotch.

But let me return to the strike.

Seizing my opportunity I shuffled over to the TV, switched off the repeat of 'Only Fools and Horses' and said:
"So why are we going on strike?"

"Boredom!" wheezed Elsie.

"That's right," I said, "The sheer monotony."

"It's not monotony," groaned Mary, "it's fucking madness."

Mary, I had already learned, liked interspersing her short sentences with unnecessary adjectives but she was always spot on with her observations. Mary had once worked in the rates office at Krupton Council where she had learned all the soft skills necessary for dealing with the general public.

But you see, dear constituents, over the next 20 years or so, the number of people over 85 will double, the number over 100 will quadruple, and in the UK alone we expect that 1.7 million lonely people like Mary who have been ditched by their relatives will need care and support.

More of us will end our lives in places like Grey Gables, about which (unless we visit family members imprisoned in them) we know almost nothing. Bright sparks like Mary and Cyril remain shut away and forgotten about until the press gets to hear of something scandalous and it becomes a topic of conversation for a day or so or until we decide that we don't like thinking about it. Or until I, Quentin Kelp, operate inside in drag.

"It's fucking boring," shouted Mary again.

"It's Thursday," groaned Elsie, "Hair wash day."

"It's only fucking Tuesday," said Mary.

"Why can't we wash our hair on Tuesday?" I asked.

"No fucking hot water," said Mary.

"My ulcers are sore," said Flo.

"What day is it?" said Elsie.

"Fucking Tuesday," repeated Mary and tried to get up from her chair. I noticed her fists were clenched and thought she was heading for Elsie - she had a certain spark in her eyes which suggested premeditated murder.

"Fucking blue tits," said Mary and I looked at Elsie to check if anything was exposed.

"She means she wants me to put some stale bread on her bird table," said Cyril and he tapped his nose and winked.

Because of his Parkinson's, Cyril's winking and nose tapping seemed to last for ages.

However, two minutes later I noticed that both Mary and Cyril were heading towards the door. Cyril's hands were still shaking though whether it was excitement or he was just limbering up I couldn't tell. Mary wheeled herself out as if she had an appointment and Cyril tapped his way towards the door aided by his wobbling white stick. But he still found time to turn and wink at me again. I suspect he was about to earn himself a bottle of sherry.

And just as I was watching that scene, Mrs Rickets came in followed by Josephine - Filipino nurse, nice blue uniform - and another Asian one called On - Thai, I think - nice blue uniform and tiny waist spoiled by a yellow plastic apron.

It was at this point that I realized my attempts to organize a strike needed to be postponed at least temporarily as I heard the grandfather clock chime. It was ten o'clock precisely and time for tea and Digestive biscuits although no-one seemed to hear the clock except me.

Bibs were tied around everyone's necks. I had a white one which rubbed against my stubble as I badly needed a shave. It was On who fitted my bib.

"Do you like it here, dear?" I asked her in my best squeaky croak.

"I never see this kind of place before," she said in her nice accent. "At home in Thailand we look after our grandmothers and grandfathers until they pass away. We say, you looked after us and now we look after you."

It was then that my mood changed, a type of depression set in (as if I'd just lost the election) and I decided to abandon the idea of a strike.

In fact, I crept out of Grey Gables at midnight, dropping off my grey wig and brown stockings in the recycling bin as I went.

Luckily a police car was passing and I flagged it down. PC Gordon was behind the wheel.

"Allo, Quent," said the familiar voice. "Been entertaining the old folks at Grey Gables then Quent?

"Sort of," I said, "Give us a lift into town, Gordon, will you?" I asked in my normal voice.

"You look a bit fed up, Quent," he said as I clambered in holding my knickers in my hand - they had fallen down twice, once by the recycling bin and again by the gate.

"Yes," I said and noticed I was biting my fingernails (it was the nervous depression).

"But it had a few lighter moments, I suppose," I added.

"When was that then, Quent?"

"Two old ladies were talking about their dead husbands," I said. "One of them said her husband used to chew his nails and it used to annoy her. The other said that her husband also used to do that and they both agreed it was extremely annoying. 'So what did you do to stop him?' the first old lady asked."

"So how, Quent - how did she stop him biting his nails?"

"She used to hide his teeth," I said.

I have to admit I then sat in the back of the police car and had a quiet little cry and I've hardly stopped since.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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