Jeremy Clarke Jeremy Clarke

My morphine machine has broken


Monday morning. In comes Frank. Frank is a carer in his late fifties. He comes daily to wash me. Still half asleep, I sit upright in my mechanical cradle forking in Greek yoghurt, strawberries and granola and looking out of the window. Up here on the cliff, it’s another clear, blue, busy day ahead for our feathery nest builders, egg rearers and chick scoffers.

Although he was a bit brutal with his caring to begin with, Funky Frank has become gentler over time

In his spare time Frank plays bass, he says. Of all the styles he likes funk best, he says. His style is a busy, intricate one. He’ll show you his air guitar version. Funky Frank is his nickname in the local pub music circle. I’ve been washed in turn by all the local carers now. Catriona and I have decided that although he was a bit brutal with his caring to begin with, Funky Frank has become gentler over time. Also that he has a good heart, and that we like him. This morning he was caring alone instead of in the usual team of two.

‘Monday morning, eh, Frank?’ I said sympathetically. ‘What do you mean?’ he said. ‘Is this what you say in England to start the week? For me it makes no difference. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Every day my spirit is the same. Nothing changes because of what day it is. I am still Frank.’ I think Frank has been to India or somewhere and fancies himself as some sort of Buddhist. ‘Everything changes. Or nothing changes – is it? Or is it nothing changes except the avant garde? I can never quite remember.’

I was in bloody agony, however. ‘My spirit isn’t the same, Frank,’ I said, making my vital objection in an undignified tone. I’m wired up via my right thigh to what is known as a morphine syringe driver.

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