Phew! Praise the Lord, but Peggy, against all the odds, has managed to hold onto the leg. She’s inside there now in the Regional hospital, in a mixed ward, like royalty, being waited on, hand and foot. Bridie is worried, in case she’ll get so fond of having everything done for her, that she’ll expect the same treatment when she’s finally allowed to return home. If she is, Bridie says, she’s going to be one very disappointed woman. I was a bit dubious about the mixed ward business at first and mentioned it to Marilyn to see what she thought about it. Well, she looked at me as if I had three heads and said nothing for a minute. Then, she only throws her eyes to heaven and asks me, real slowly, as if I’m intellectually challenged, if I’ve noticed the average age of the patients, both men and women, in St. Bridget’s ward? Well, actually no, I can’t say I have, not being the most observant of people. Anyway, she doesn’t give me a chance to say anything, but informs me that, as far as she can make out, it has to be about 74. She’s probably right, after all, Marilyn is the youngest of us and has, so far, excellent eyesight so, if she says 74, it’s sure to be, well, 74.
‘For Christ’s sake,’ she says ‘that woman must be eighty, if she’s a day.’ There are times when Marilyn reminds me very strongly of Hamlet – you know, that supercilious, morally conservative high ground, tone? Remember, Hamlet was the one who lays into his mother for being sex mad. The arrogant bastard only goes and tells her that her ‘age, the heyday in the blood is cooled’ or some such balderdash. Obviously, she’s supposed to just sort of slip around chastely, until she’s whipped off to the Great Beyond – which is, one presumes, a totally sex free zone.
But where was I? Oh yes, Peggy and the mixed ward. I just know Marilyn is wrong to assume that, because one is in one’s late seventies (like Peggy) that all one wants to do is lie down and die. There’s plenty life in Peggy still, because every time I’ve been in to see her, she’s been telling me about the patient in the next bed and practically drooling. She’s never met anyone like him, she says, in all her sixty five years (oh, Peggy never tells the truth about her age, she’s the only person I know, who’s actually getting younger as time passes) It’s Vladimir this, and Vladimir that. Honestly, it’s as if the woman is entering her dotage, Marilyn says. This is the same woman who always used to say, before she met Vladimir that is, that she’d trust no one from Russia. According to her, all the Russians are either descended from the Cossacks or the Communists and they’re just saturated in tattoos, or body art, as Peggy primly calls it. All you have to do, she says, is look at Putin. Huh? When I ask her what she means: look at Putin, she just taps her finger off the side of her nose and looks all mysterious. Honestly! She does have a point about Putin though, he’s one, seriously freaky looking individual. But then, there’s Donald and Boris and shure, they’re from nowhere near Russia. Anyway, Marilyn says it’s disgusting the way she’s making sheep’s eyes at Vladimir, who’s at least half her age.
Then, there’s the woman in the bed at the other side of Peggy, who’s always chanting away to herself and swaying, at least she is, whenever I go in. Peggy says she’s New Rastafarian. Never heard of them, I tell Peggy. But no, she’s adamant that that’s what this woman is. Apparently, New Rastafarians, as opposed presumably to old Rastafarians, refuse to shave any bodily hair, it’s part of their beliefs or something. Peggy says that the hair on this woman’s legs is so thick, you could actually plait it. And then, there’s Dolores. Ah jeez, no, that’s a story for another day. I’m addled enough with Vladimir, the New Rastafarian and Marilyn’s sudden bout of ageism.
PS: I still think Peggy’s got it arse-ways about the Rastafarian though.