Jeremy quizzes a group of mentally handicapped men and women about Glenn Hoddle's downfallby Jeremy Clarke / March 20, 1999 / Leave a comment
Published in March 1999 issue of Prospect Magazine
I sleep and work in the same narrow, windowless room. Before the house was renovated, it used to be a coal bunker. Now it is a sort of annexe between the main house and the garage. In this confined space I have a single bed, two white cupboards and a desk. With less than a yard between the bed where I sleep and the desk where I work, it is not unusual for me to wake up, get out of bed and, like a new-born termite, start work immediately. It’s cramped-but I’m not complaining. If I feel claustrophobic I can always stand at the door and look at the sheep grazing in the field opposite; and beyond them, at the English Channel, which is a different colour every day.
‘Twixt bed and desk there is just enough room for my kitchen chair; and there I sit for most of the day, earnestly tapping out my short, egocentric pieces. Because this room is on the main thoroughfare between house and garage, however, I am constantly being interrupted by people wanting to get past. Then I have to stop in mid-sentence, draw in my chair as far as it will go, and rest my cheek against the computer screen while they edge past behind me.
The main house is a residential home for the elderly, so by and large the people passing through my room are fairly miserable. For everyone concerned, living with dementia and death gets beyond a joke after a while. So far this morning I’ve had the cook squeezing past twice on her way to and from the freezer, moaning about the inadequacy of the kitchen tongs in both directions. Then the young lady who drives and administers the mobile library came in. She was hunting for a lavatory. I directed her to the one next door, then sat back in my chair and listened to her go.
Then, around mid-morning, a troupe of residents, driven by a care assistant, came clattering through. They had their hats and coats on, and their aluminium walking frames knocked against the legs of my chair as they negotiated the bottleneck. I greeted them…