In the Queen Alexandra Day Room and Recreation Area, there is a Notice Board. The Residents of Twilight Lawns plc (Retirement Home for Distressed Gentlefolk, Norbury-sur-Mer) are encouraged to read postings on this Notice Board every day, as there is often useful information, or perhaps, changes to the rules of the Home. For some, the Notice Board in the Queen Alexandra Day Room and Recreation Area is their only form of reading, and frequently, their only intellectual contact with their surroundings, much less the outside world.
On Tuesday last, a new notice was pinned to the Board. Maude in her Capacity of Notice Board Reader, made sure that all the other residents either read it or had the information relayed to them. The notice read as follows:
To all Residents and Guests.
Matron and Staff would like to offer their apologies if you were woken by the turmoil at 5:30 this morning. We suppose that with the sound of the Fire Brigade and the Ambulance arriving and also by the noise of the police sirens, there would have been little chance for our Dear Residents to gain any restful sleep during the fracas and what occurred afterwards.
An explanation is called for, but at present, there is some confusion as to what really occurred. However, we have pieced the available information together; mostly anecdotal evidence, garnered from Residents, some Members of Staff and others
According to Cissie and Maude, who happened to be on Badger Watch in the orchard, Old Mrs Prendergast (Ghastly Prendy, as she is affectionately known to her fellow residents) had managed to clamber on to the roof of the main building wearing only her second best lilac cardigan and a pair of green Wellington boots.
Raj also happened to be on the same section of roof, no doubt still in pursuit of Matron’s Pussy. (Raj is such a thoughtful boy…) Well, he is thoughtful of the predicament of others, but not thoughtful enough of his own health, because he was only wearing a pair of socks and his new blue shirt. He does look lovely in that new blue shirt, as several Residents have already commented. However, the dear lad could have caught his death of cold, under the circumstances.
As Old Mrs Prendergast passed him, he is reported to have heard her mutter something about Homophones and the Throne… or perhaps something similar: such as, “They’ve Thrown out the Homophones”.
It transpired that earlier in the day, Mrs Prendergast had had a slight altercation with another Resident, Hermione, who maintained that Ghastly Prendy couldn’t spell and that she “wouldn’t know a homophone if it sat up and bit her”.
It was all something to do with “where”, “were” and “wear”.
To return to the situation on the roof; when Raj passed Ghastly Prendy going in a vaguely Northerly direction, he apparently was travelling somewhat South-Westerly: Raj politely accosted her and asked if she could direct him to the dormer window to Sharon’s room (this window, by happy circumstance, happened to be open… Sharon herself taking the night air dressed, incongruously enough, in the uniform that she uses for her work at The Grange, namely in her Femme de Chambre uniform).
On consideration, it was very strange, really; dear Raj, wearing only a pair of socks and his lovely new blue shirt; Sharon, in such close proximity, dressed as a Femme de Chambre! But young people, nowadays; they get up to such strange pranks.
Ghastly Prendy became more aggressive than usual and told him to “bugger off” or she’d push him off the roof whether “you W-E-R-E or you W-E-A-R or you W-H-E-R-E your bloody blue shirt with no underpants or not”.
He stuck his head through Sharon’s window, and called to her that “Ghastly Prendy is out of her head, Innit” and then sought personal refuge in Sharon’s bed, where he was discovered later, warming himself; with Sharon solicitously taking care of him. It is a good thing his ready mind realised that searching for Matron’s Pussy, wearing only a pair of socks and his new blue shirt, would lead to an attack of the ague, or worse. Sensible lad. A credit to his dad. Bed is best at a time like that… even the bed of another kind person. Even if that other person is that deplorable little slut, Sharon!
By this time, Ghastly Prendy was making a racket and had started throwing slates off the roof again. Whenever she gets a little excited, the old dear mutters something to herself like, “To the barricades!” and almost inevitable, she can be found on the roof throwing down slates.
After about half an hour of this, Sharon decided to do something about the situation. Raj had gone to sleep, as he obviously had had a very tiring day, and she was basically at a loose end.
She wisely called Charge Nurse Smythe, who alerted the Police, the Surrey Ambulance Service and the Fire Brigade.
The Police arrived, with sirens blaring, about three quarters of an hour later, but refused to do anything; Police Inspector Bilgit Singh maintaining that Twilight Lawns was basically out of his jurisdiction, but as he had been called out from a nice warm office on a wild goose chase, joined Matron in her parlour, where they were joined shortly after six o’clock by Cook, a bottle of Sherry and a bottle of Ruby Port, and several other constables.
When the Ambulance arrived, only a quarter of an hour after the Police, with blue flashing lights, and an even more strident alarm sounding at full blast, the driver and one other person (both wearing very fetching Surrey Ambulance Service uniforms) repaired to Charge Nurse Smythe’s room where they entertained themselves, and her, by practising applying tourniquets to each other’s arms and legs, and reading passages to each other from Charge Nurse Smythe’s best seller:
The ABC of Being Me:
Arthritis, Bladder control; & Colostomy,
Amusing Anecdotes from a Retirement Home.
Hildegard Smythe R.N.
Eventually, the Fire Brigade vehicle arrived; blue flashing lights and a siren accompanying. The members of the Fire Brigade, having discovered that every officer but one on that particular engine suffered from vertigo, sent Trainee Fire Fighter, Tracey Wicklop, up the ladder to try to bring Old Mrs Prendergast
(a) off the roof and down to ground lever
(b) to her senses
Neither course of action was satisfactory, as the poor old dear legged it to the apex of the roof crying out in a previously unfamiliar stentorian voice that she “Ain’t ……. (Expletive) coming down, Throne or no Thrown, and you can stuff your Mea Culpa up your ….. (expletive) and don’t tell me what to Mea Culpa myself with. Up you and your Homophones and Gramophones”. And with every expletive she would wrench another roof slate from beneath her feet and fling it over the edge.
Dear Tracey Wicklop (Trainee Fire Fighter) listened to all this for at least ten minutes; meanwhile ducking to the left or the right, as applicable, to avoid being struck by roof slates. But by this time every compassionate bone in her body had been worn paper thin. She tried again to reason with Old Mrs Prendergast who started again to bellow, “I ain't ……. (Expletive) coming dow…”.
So Tracey, following ‘Fire Brigade Rules; Dealing with Rescuees in an Emergency: Code of Practice 23/B’, punched Mrs Prendergast in the mouth, threw a fire blanket over her and dragged her down the ladder to a round of applause from those bystanders who had managed to shuffle out to watch the show.
Ghastly Prendy was sedated and removed to the Infirmary.
Tea, Horlicks and Digestive Biscuits were then served in the Queen Alexandra Day Room to the members of the Fire Brigade. Tracey Wicklop (Trainee Fire Fighter) was given permission to serve the men and also allowed to wash up and tidy up after the others. Obviously someone had to do it, and washing up and clearing up after Brave and Fearless Firemen called out to an emergency, had to be performed by someone. And that Honour and Privilege should obviously fall to a Trainee Fire Fighter, especially if she is a Female Trainee Fire Fighter… and Tracey Wicklop fulfilled both those criteria.
So, as we said earlier in this little notice, we suppose that with the sound of the fire brigade arriving and also by the noise of the police sirens, and the ambulance, there would have been little chance for our dear Residents and Guests to gain any restful sleep during the fracas and the excitement that continued a little afterwards.
(On behalf of)
Matron, (Mrs H Plantagenet-Featheringstonehaugh)