My mum is disabled. She has to use a Zimmer frame, is 82 and is a paranoid schizophrenic. At the moment this presents itself in relatively low level paranoia. Any perception that she has of her surroundings being in any way changed from her memory is only explicable to her in these terms: an ex-lover of my dad’s who has been around so long, that she must be in her seventies, is moving things around. My mother calls her ‘The Bag’. I should point out that to my certain knowledge, this person has never existed, yet she has haunted our lives for decades.

The situation with her dog is that it functions as a large determined toddler whose needs must be satisfied, and it has a ferocious bark.  Everyone’s life would be easier without the dog, yet, it’s still a dog, draining our empathy and our patience at the same time. And Mum loves it.

The other night at around 11.30 Mum phoned up. She is currently alone at night. She feels safe with the dog.

“Come round. You must come round.”
“What s wrong, Mum? ”
“No, I can’t tell you, really I can’t, please come round, it’s awful, it’s terrible!”
“I’ll be right round.”
“Billy!” I shout to my son, “You have to come round to mum’s with me, she sounds awful, I think the dog must have died!”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “She sounded really panicked. We can only hope.”
“Jesus,” he said. Like me, I could tell he was conflicted.

It takes about eight minutes to get there in the middle of the night.

The dog barked at us as we arrived.


“What’s wrong Mum?”
“The toilet seat.”
“The toilet seat? ”
“Yes, the fecking toilet seat. It’s up. I am sure, I AM SURE I left it down. I want you to ring the police.”
“You’ve called us out at half eleven, because of the toilet seat?”
“That fecking bag has been in again. Call 999.”
I turned the toilet seat down, we made sure mum was back in bed and we left.

The next day I went round at lunch time.
“Are you ok Mum?”
“Yes, but look in the commode. How did the commode fill up like that?”


I look in the pot. It’s quite full.
“I never pissed all that. That feckin’ bag has been in again.”

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