Things to do in Dundee when you’re dead.

A quick summary of the last week and some other pressing matters. Flits about a bit and a touch too long. Sorry Linsi.

Finish packing. Shitty kitty dribbling shit ALL over the house. Want to cry. Take kitty to superb sister and her superb ‘significant other’ who proceed to melt all our fears and send us off with a slightly brighter outlook. Drive to Manchester for drinks and fun with chums and their children. Hello chums and your children. Play celebrity guessing game during which I suggest Madeline McCann could be considered a celebrity. Which at least is a talking point. Drive to Glasgow for 2 nights of hastily booked Air B&B. No hot water first morning. And who said the Scots were tight? Drinks and laughs with wife’s friends then more laughs with another of wife’s friends and her kids. Wife’s friend says nice things about writing and the future. Glasgow has one of the worst road systems in the universe, in case you were interested. Hot water worked next morning but I’m not sure I like Air B&B too much. Drive to Dundee, where dark clouds are gathering. Mind you it’s Scotland, a country where dark clouds gathering is considered entertainment.

Dundee, for all it’s charm, can feel like a struggling city. Too many restaurants and not enough people. Incidentally I’m not classing Frankie and Benny’s as a restaurant. Compare it to some towns and it barely qualifies as a city, and if you made the university vanish then Dundee would crumble gently into despair. At least I think so. We’ve been to Dundee far too often recently and that’s because dementia has come knocking. My mother in law has been diagnosed with it and since she lives on her own up there she needs some support. Sadly she has spent years drifting into bad habits with her ‘other half’, he being a urine drenched, fish eyed shit-sack who is roughly 148 years old and exists on Subway and a barrage of awful television, usually turned up so loud other people’s ears start to bleed. He’s a parasite and a leech and if he left this earth in 3 seconds time that would still be too long a wait. I’m almost ashamed to admit I mean that.

I’m not great with old folk, as you can probably tell, so being in Dundee to look after a mother in law with dementia is about as far away from fun as I can imagine. If dementia was in a pack of ‘horrible medical problems’ Top Trumps (I’m claiming that as my idea) it would win over everything. It may not include the messy end of, say, Ebola, the shock of a heart attack or the insidious creep of cancer but it has it’s own special seat in the human condition which places it at the high alter of sadness. It also requires dozens of other people to help out, all of them knowing that in the long run there really isn’t much that can be done. Just watch and wait. And wait.

Dundee has a few attractions, which when you’ve gone a few times too many just become distractions, and then just things you can say you saw, once, a long time ago and it’s probably not worth bothering now. Look up the top 10 things to do in Dundee and the list should probably stop after number 6. And when I say 6, I mean 4. The city is currently undergoing a cultural overhaul with millions being invested in waterfront developments including a new V&A Museum of Design. Quite whether these will prove to be as great a lure as was first imagined remains to be seen. It is thoroughly unrealistic to ask tourists to take a day trip out from anywhere outside a 2 hour radius just to visit Dundee. It would be like getting a bus to buy a portion of chips from McDonalds.

Realistically you have to go to Dundee on your way somewhere else or if, like us, you really have to go anyway. It’s one of those places that has 3 shopping centres: the first one, the second one which turned the first one into shit and then the big shiny third one which left the other 2 about as attractive as walking on a hot day in a tramps underpants. It happens in towns all over Britain, it’s just I see it in Dundee more regularly. ‘Retail premises to let’ signs are as ubiquitous as fat, violent seagulls.

Back to mother in law, who is starting to struggle. Not all the time but enough to be a worry. She has four care visits a day but sooner or later that won’t be enough. I don’t know how much they cost the taxpayer but multiply them by lots of millions across the nation and you start to get an idea of just how big a problem we have. That’s for another time but you don’t have to imagine how much hard work dementia throws up. More for ‘the wife’ than me in this instance (but you probably already knew that). On a practical level there is cleaning and tidying and organising and arranging and shopping and cooking to do, but they’re just jobs. There’s the worry and the phone calls and the expense as well.

The hardest bit is the continual loop of aimless conversations and banal asides. You see, my mother in law is very stubborn, something she has passed down to both her daughters, and she is perfectly capable of refusing even the most obvious suggestions. If asked whether she has put her hearing aids in she will just reply “not going to hear any better with them in, am I”. Of course you bloody well will you silly…..etc, etc. She wants to reject all help because she doesn’t remember on a day to day basis just how much she needs it and she has pride too. She wants desperately to stay in her house, her drawers and wardrobes stuffed with random memories and ill advised TK Maxx purchases, but if she doesn’t tow the line then bigger cogs will eventually turn. And that will be sad because she is a nice person for much of the time and doesn’t deserve a bad life; she has had to deal with plenty of crap over the years.

For logistical reasons we couldn’t stay with mother in law, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, so we Air B&B’d it again. This time we stayed in a shed. It was a nice shed but it was still a shed. A shed with a plastic roof, which doesn’t help in a city as wet as Dundee. I could have had a more restful sleep in the central reservation of the M25. Other than that it was OK though ‘the wife’ thought it was better than that because they gave us croissants. What I’ve decided is particularly annoying about Air B&B is that the price you think is at first good then skyrockets with the Air B&B ‘tax’ and ‘cleaning costs’. Suddenly a reliable bed in a Premier Inn seems like a better option. Approach with caution.

So, we got away in the end and drove back, all nine hours of it with a couple of stops. Driving from London to Dundee is impossibly boring even with ‘the wife’ and the radio, both at full blast. Every route option is different but they’re all a waste of life. We dropped by to pick up shitty kitty who had by all accounts behaved very well. Apart from all the faecal matter, of course. She’s now at home and has dribbled poo on me three times as I’ve been writing this. Hopefully it will clear up in time and with the help of love and antibacterial wipes. Let’s just hope she doesn’t get dementia as well. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Well, maybe my worst enemy.

G B Hewitt. 20.08.2017

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