Miss Scattergood was a big hit at the old people's home, but then the silly cow went and died.by Jeremy Clarke / May 20, 1999 / Leave a comment
Published in May 1999 issue of Prospect Magazine
Miss scattergood seemed to have turned the corner. It really was quite extraordinary. She had got herself out of bed, washed and dressed, and come downstairs to join the other ladies, who were sunning themselves in the south-facing conservatory.
None of the other ladies had seen her before. When she came from the hospital three weeks earlier (where surgeons had tried, and failed, to save one of her lungs), she’d come through the front door and gone straight upstairs to bed, where she had been lying, breathless and anxious, ever since. The ladies had heard rumours about her, but they hadn’t actually seen her.
I’d seen her. Twice. Once I took the phone up to her, and once I picked her up off the floor after she’d fallen over between her bed and the commode. She’d cut her arm-there was claret all over the place-and she said she was sorry to be a nuisance. The nursing assistants had all seen her, of course, and some of them had got to know her quite well already. They said what a nice lady she was, and how cheerful, in spite of her breathing difficulties. But to the other residents Miss Scattergood had been something of a mystery.
And suddenly here she was. Dressed and downstairs for the first time, taking afternoon tea in the conservatory and telling everyone how well she felt.
Miss Scattergood was an instant hit. On the whole, talkers like Miss Scattergood aren’t popular with our saner residents. Many a time I’ve seen them take against a new lady because she talked. But Violet (no snobbish nonsense about surnames) said all the right things and knew when to give it a rest. And, refreshingly, her conversation didn’t revolve around herself either. It had perspective.
After tea she went for a walk in the garden. Our ladies were shocked at this. None of them had ventured out of doors this year. It was still too cold to be even thinking about going out. “Bon voyage,” said one of the more cultured ones as Miss Scatterg…