I do it once a week. Well that’s not too bad, considering my age. Mostly it takes me three quarters of an hour – but that’s understandable too. One of the bosses is in the carpark. Long legged, slim and elegant with eyes to die for (the colour of a cloudless summer sky), he saunters towards me. My knees wobble even thinking about him. WOW. But, hang on, before you go all wobbly too, it’s not what you’re imagining, you rotten lot.
It’s 9am but inside there’s already plenty of action – that is if you call wheelchairs in motion ‘action’. It’s a home where the elderly and infirm find comfort and affection beyond explanation from other than the usual caregivers.
Some of these are hogging the best chairs, or curled up on laps, whilst others are still snuggled down in bed with their ‘owners’. When I open the door at No.38 I find my friend in danger of being smothered by ‘Baggins’ who lies across her chest, pinning her to the bed where he’s spent the night snoring. Her room is his room – the Knox Home is his home.
This is obviously not your normal rest home where the idea of allowing animals is abhorrent and
unhygienic. How many people do you know who’ve heart-wrenchingly had to have their pets euthanised because they were compelled to move into care. If not sitting on still-warm car bonnets, Ole Blue Eyes is often seen snuggling up on a lap in the lounge. ‘George’ (no relation to the Prince) ‘belongs’ to Peg in the next corridor. This tabby disappears during daylight hours and Peg insists he ‘goes to work’ but I wonder if, with a Church opposite, he doesn’t sit bathed in the colours of the stained glass windows praying for the ‘oldies’ across the road. ‘Romeo’ is small, with tousled hair hiding his eyes. He arrives daily by bicycle (in a backpack) to visit Pat. What joy she gets from these visits. ‘Whisper’, the small black cat, sticks close to his ‘Dad’. ‘Oscar’, a small dog with a tail in perpetual motion dashes about like a whirling dervish cajoling titbits at mealtimes. And there are others too numerous to mention.
The hairdresser, who rescues neglected animals, often brings a selection of livestock in for a day. She arrived just before me carrying two cages, one containing a couple of brown ducks, the other a hen with a clutch of newly hatched chickens. Incidentally she has ten ponies and numerous cats and dogs but still finds time to shampoo and set the hair of the ladies of Ranfurly Road. Yep- it’s not a bad way to help combat the blues that so often accompany old age – that is if you’re an animal lover.