It was a Saturday I remember because we were going to the footie in the afternoon. Our Spar grocers is tiny and crowded and you end up queuing , whilst squashed up against mountains of water, or piles of toilet rolls. I only want a newspaper, but join the queue.‘Oh ,spare me’ I say to myself ,as I notice Gordon Ellis, the Victor Meldrew of our close , two places in front of me. Gordon can moan for England ! His wife died two years ago and since then , he has been a pain in the proverbial. With time on his hands, he has embraced every cause imaginable, either to grumble over , or take up cudgels about.
He’s in full flow to someone and his voice is rising rapidly as he gets into his current subject; doctors’ appointments. It seems he has tried to get one of these elusive items, without success.
‘It’s just an excuse, this Covid business’ he’s saying. ‘ to get out of seeing folk. What use is a telephone appointment when you’re suffering like I am?
I needed a face to face about my piles . They‘re not your ordinary piles you know. They‘re bleeding piles.’
I grimace to myself. It wouldn’t have been Gordon’s face the poor doc would have been studying , in this case. Has the man no shame, discussing all his medical history with a shop full of people ?
‘Well he prescribed some cream, and a bottle of God knows what for my bowels, and then he had the cheek to suggest I sat on a rubber ring. I ask you . I’ve not had a rubber ring since I learned to swim seventy years ago. Are you going to get me one of those on the NHS I said to him ,because I certainly won’t be paying for one.’
At this point the notices me.
‘ Ah Nora. I expect you heard that. What a shambles this health service is now. It comes to something when a man of my age , with bleeding piles, is fobbed off like that. Bleeding Nora , that’s what I told him, but was he bothered enough to see me, no. Anyway I wanted to catch you about that laurel hedge of yours…..’
His voice tails off. There’s a commotion at the counter. Someone screams and Gordon pushes to the front. A youth is brandishing a knife and ordering the shopkeeper to open his till. He’s resisting. There’s a shout.
‘Put that knife down ,son.’ It’s Gordon. He’s alongside the youth and holding out his hand. The youth slashes at Gordon, drops the knife and flees from the store.
Gordon lies bleeding in front of the counter. I drop to the floor and check his pulse.
‘I’m bleeding Nora’ are his last words.
I don’t go there on a Saturday.
© Dorothy Snelson