Here is a passage that I removed from Deadkidsongs. In the finished text it would appear in Chapter 13 (Paul) pg 385, just after, 'I couldnt believe how far wed fallen apart, like leaves from a tree blown sometimes even as far as another county.
Just before we are about to leave, Estelle found herself unable to keep away any longer from her husband.
I wanted to be sure that Id got away with it. She went upstairs. I didnt risk telling Peter what Id done. Hed find out soon enough if Bert blabbed.
About ten minutes later, Estelle came back downstairs.
Hes asleep, she said.
It hadnt taken her ten minutes to find that out.
Is something wrong? I asked. Estelle had shrunk again. Every new blow seemed to diminish her. She was like a sugar cube crumbling away into a cup of tea.
No, she said, lying. No, not at all.
She sat down on the sofa. Her shoulders hunched up and her big knobbly fingers formed a cage over her face.
I was terrified that Bert had blabbed. I sat down beside her, mimicking the way my mother always comforted me. I had a very small hope that Bert had died of a heart-attack in the last few lonely minutes.
What is it? You can tell me. Whats wrong?
I didnt sound convincing, even to myself. They were the right words but in suspiciously the wrong order. Peter looked at me with incomprehension.
Its nothing, sobbed Estelle. He does it sometimes, these days. But he never used to. Not until recently. He was always very hygienic.
I caught Peters glance, at the risk of sending him off into uncontrollable giggles.
What did he do? I asked.
Estelle began to cry uncontrollably.
Steeling myself, I took hold of her cold waxy hand.
From her sobs, Estelle formed words. From her words, I formed a sentence. He wet the bed.
I thought, I must not look at Peter. If I do, he will make me piss myself laughing.
There there, I say, just like my mother would. Its not that bad. All you have to do is clear it up.
For almost the first time ever, she interrupted me. No, I cant. I cant cope. I cant, any longer. Not if hes going to be doing this all the time. Hes too heavy. I cant lift him, not even with Miranda to help me. We need special equipment and we cant afford it. Theyll take him away from me. Theyll put him in a home. Or hospital. Ive let him down. I always thought hed look after me.
After this she became quite incomprehensible. Her wailing continued for another minute or so.
Is he all right now? I asked, after waiting for a slight break in her misery.
Ive done the best I can, Estelle said. Hes still damp. I really need to give him a bed bath. But for that he needs to be lifted up.
We can help, said Peter.
I had been debating whether or not to make this offer myself. The sight of me might cause Bert to remember what Matthew had just said to him.
Thats very kind of you, said Estelle. But I think I better phone up Alma.
Now that Peter had offered, Id decided we must force our help upon Estelle. But wont that make it more likely that theyll take him away? I said. Estelles sobbing and her incomprehensibility were redoubled.
Finally, she said, Would you?
Of course, said Peter. Just tell us what to do.
Estelle sat for a moment. She seemed to grow slightly larger again. Her meagre strength was being gathered. The handkerchief did its work on her nose and eyes. I cant have him seeing me like this, she said.
Recomposed, she stood up.
Good, said Peter.
Are you sure about this? Estelle asked.
Yes, I said. Whatever we can do to help.
We started towards the stairs.
Its really very simple, Estelle explained.
She began to mount the steps, sideways, one by one, holding always on to the bannister. She was so slow. We followed her, impatiently disguising our impatience. She was explaining what we would have to do, but we were not listening.
Berts snoring was audible well before we get into the bedroom. I expected a strong smell of urine, but there was none. Only the same smell there was earlier.
Ive mopped up most of it, said Estelle. We just need to change his pyjamas and the sheets and blankets.
She went over to the bed, pulled back the covers and started unbuttoning Berts front. His snoring quietened but continued. It was a strong healthy rasp.
Like I said, I need some help to lift him up.
Both Peter and I found ourselves immobilized by the greatest disgust either of us has ever felt. With me, it was as if a fist of sick had formed itself in my stomach and was tensing itself to sock me in the roof of the mouth. This, I thought, was what happened to human beings. This was what human beings allow to happen to them.
Berts top was open, and we could see his greyly pink chest. Every single part of it was sagging, every line upon it pointed downwards.
Out of the two of us, I was the bravest. I stepped round Estelle and began to push Bert up from behind. Peter came over to help, by collecting Berts wrists together and tugging at them. Berts back was dry, but I could tell from Peters expression that his hands were damp.
When Bert was hunched fully forwards, Estelle took hold of his right arm and fed it through through the damp pyjama sleeve. A little of Berts urine splashed onto my trousers as she pulled the stripey material off his back. Then she yanked the whole wet bundle off down his left arm.
I was now looking at Berts back, which looked like an aerial photograph of the Somme. There were bombcraters, trenches and small hillocks. Towards the bottom, there was a particularly huge white scar.
Estelle took the pyjama top into the bathroom. We could hear it slop into the bath tub.
Over Berts sleeping head, Peter and I looked at each other.
The taps began to run.
I motioned with my head, and Peter leant round to examine Berts back.
How do you think he got that? Peter asked.
The taps stopped.
Estelle reentered. Oh, she said, you can put him on his back,
We did so, and she untied his pyjama cord.
He was an old man and had an old mans willy, and his old mans willy
looked remarkably like an old man.
For a moment, Peter and I just stood looking down at it.
Its not too bad, is it? asked Estelle, and we both thought
she meant the willy.
Berts body was almost liquid, he had so few muscles left. The flesh flowed,
as gravity required, to the lowest point available. In places he had lots of
flab, in others we could see bones wed never seen on a living person before.
His skin was very pink, and looked as if it had been scraped a little with a
scouring pad. There was a fibrous texture to his middle parts which reminded
me of the way wholemeal dough used to look when half pulled apart by my mother
- it wasnt exactly stringy, more like the side of a shredded wheat biscuit.
After our brief halt of amazement, we managed to continue assisting Estelle
in the ways she requested. She pulled all the blankets off. Bert immediately
began to shiver. One of his hands floated around in the air. Estelle pulled
out her nurses corners. We rolled Bert over to the far left of the bed.
Estelle wiped down the plastic undersheet, and then dried it off with a towel.
She then made the right side of the bed. We rolled Bert over onto that, doing
our best not to get him rucked up in the sheets. While all this was going on,
I made sure we handled Bert extremely carefully. I didnt want to risk
him waking up and saying what had happened to him - even if he said it was only
in a dream. But being gentle wasnt easy: he moved, he flailed. Estelle
was very efficient, and a word from her seemed to calm Bert. She tucked in the
last of the sheet. Another pair of pyjamas were produced. Putting them on Bert
was much harder than removing them. It made me wonder why people thought such
a life - such a life-in-death, death-in-life - was worth living. The man wasnt
a man any more. We would be doing him a service by killing him. I was sure that,
in any normal state, looking in on himself from outside, Bert would have agreed
with me. Even more so if hed been a fit healthy young man, such as he
had obviously once been. This was what amazed me most, though I was perhaps
not able to express it as well then as I am now: the ability of human beings
to accommodate themselves to the disgustingness of their own aging bodies. We
were not meant to live as long as we do. The second half of all lives over fourty
is degenerate, and should be stopped by legislation. Everything that needs to
be done in life can and should be done before that age. After fourty, there
is nothing left but dotage.
Estelle did up the last of Berts buttons - they were very old-fashioned blue and white stripey jim-jams. Id had a pair like them, once.
(Andrew had a pair in khaki-camouflage design, with a name badge on the breast pocket, only the name there said Billson.)
Bert was covered with a sheet, which we helped pull tight and tuck in.
Estelle began saying, Thank you. Thank you, around now, and didnt stop until we were downstairs again. In fact, she kept saying it, at intervals, the whole rest of that visit.
Two fresh, unpissed-on blankets were pulled over the top, and then a quilted counterpane. Bert looked as if he was about to wake up, so we tiptoed out.
Estelle carried all her husbands soiled bedding (how could she?) down the stairs and into the kitchen.
Peter looked at me and said, Hes so old.
Shh, I said. Not because I thought Estelle could hear, but because
what Peter said was so rudimentary. He should learn to keep quiet until hed
thought of something new and decent to say.
When Estelles thank yous became oppressive (didnt take long) we
decided to leave.
Its such a relief to have a little help, nowadays. Im sorry I had to put you through that. The sight cant be pleasant for boys your age. He was a fine figure of a man, back in his heyday. But time passes, and you cant avoid what happens when it does. Dont mention this to him, the next time you see him, will you? I dont think hed like to know that you saw him like that. Hes a very proud man is Bert, very proud.
When we were safely away. I told Peter what Id done upstairs. He was
shocked, and didnt try to hide it.