By Geoff Lowe, Grassington
Like a T- shirt hanging about to get dry, Leonard was flopped over the back of the chair. He was 77 years ld and at last he discovered a good way to ease the pain in his arthritic hips. Unfortunately he couldn’t see the TV from that position.
But he could still hear it, of course, so he used his mind to paint pictures. And when there was nothing much on the telly, Leonard would gaze at the floor, or at the bottom of the chair and examine the minor details. Sometimes he would create characters out of bits of fluff and discarded hairs.
The worst part was getting himself off the chair after an hour or more’s flop. In the early days of his flopping, he managed to ease himself forward into a slow forward role and then turn over on the floor before grabbing hold of some nearby furniture and hauling himself upright – usually quite gingerly.
These days, however, Leonard often had to hang around until his wife came back from shopping or bingo, or whatever else she did to get away from the sight of Leonard’s fat backside flopped over the chair. Mavis was getting seriously fed up of his ‘flopping phase’.
“It’s not doing that chair any good,” she would moan. She found the whole business distasteful. It lowered the tone of the front room. Every time she returned home, she’d dread the ritual of the heave-ho with Leonard. This afternoon, Mavis was in a bad mood and let him know before she went off to Bingo. “And if you’re still flopped over that chair when I get back there’ll be trouble. I keep telling you – take some paracetamol if the pain’s bad. Here, I’ll put some tablets here for you, look, with a glass of water.”
When she’d gone, Leonard thought about taking the tablets. He’d not tried them before. “It’s not natural,” he’d reckoned. But it was coming to the end of a sunny afternoon and he fancied a look outside. So he gulped down the tablets, and waited.
Sure enough, the pain subsided, and when he stood up it was OK. As he leant on the armchair, it rolled forward a bit on its castor wheels, and he kept pushing it towards the back door. Leonard opened the door and pushed the chair outside towards the back gate, which was open.
He positioned it just outside thegateway and sat down. At last he could see all the way down the street – and for miles, because their house was at the top of the hill. It had been almost a year since he had been this far. Leonard just sat there enjoying this fantastic view. And as the sun was setting he began to doze. Soon he was almost unconscious – probably because he wasn’t used to painkillers.
Later when Mavis got back from bingo, there was no Leonard flopped over the chair back. Even the chair had gone! And the back door was wide open. She looked outside. The back gate wasopen to all. She phoned the police to report him missing. When she gave them a description they said “We’ve got him here at the station. He’s just been charged.
“Apparently he was in an armchair and tried to ram-raid the chemist’s shop down at the bottom of the hill. He said he wanted some more paracetamol.”