Friday, December 12, 2008

'Then the poor man came in sight ..'

This morning before the Eucharist thirty children from Tredegarville school came over and sang carols in the churchyard, much to the pleasure of people passing in the streets or entering the church. It was a cold and damp morning, though not as cold as the same occasion last year, as I recall. It took the opportunity to take some video footage, including a 'Wish you a merry Christmas' greeting to add to the collection I'm now posting on Google video. I've done an easy access web-page of links to the videos.

Raymond appeared in the Tea Room first thing, looking ill and smelling incontinent. He'd been absent since last Friday, save for a brief appearance on Tuesday. Last Friday he was also feeling ill and I urged him to go to hospital, and seek treatment. On Tuesday he said he'd quit hospital out at Llandough "sick of lying about waiting for something to be done" as he put it. In reality, he was penniless and took a taxi into town to pick up his weekly over the counter benefit payment from the DHSS. With nothing to pay for his ride, the driver had taken him to Central Police Station, which somehow dealt with it without locking him up.

On Tuesday he was shorn of his top coat and not carrying his usual bag, suggesting that he had walked out of hospital without discharging himself. Tuesday and Wednesday were so cold, I wondered what had happened to him. He was kitted out as usual this morning, suggesting he had returned to pick up his belongings and discharge himself, but after a night back in Tresillian House he was evidently worse for wear. He's a quiet surreptitious spirits drinker, who doesn't eat properly and is making himself sicker and sicker. He has a damaged knee which may need surgery and refuses to let this be treated if it involves anaesthetics, of which he has an instinctive fear, and flees whenever this is proposed to him.

I spent half an hour with him, again urging him to go back and get treatment. He's a man who only bows to extreme necessity. He said next Friday is his 60th birthday and invited me to the Prince of Wales pub for a drink. I wonder if he will make it. He is sick, needy, and stubbornly determined to live his meagre existence on his own terms. He can be shrewd and even smart playing the system on times, but is otherwise his own worst enemy.

How would I be, if I was in his situation, with so much sadness and betrayal underlying his air of resignation and quiet despair?

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