Hawes 2

And then there was the weekend when Dyce saved Geoff’s life.

The usual suspects over in Reeth were booked so Dyce’d rung Mrs. Alderson in Hawes. Geoff couldn’t come ‘til the Friday so it had to be Hawes. You have to be able to walk to the shops when you’ve no car.

Standing room only to Leeds – three carriages. Pete couldn’t work out how to drink the coffee on Leeds station. It’d a spout like a nursing feeder. A different train company to Carlisle with loads of carriages and more space than a walk in a remote dale. Why has the Huddersfield to Leeds train have to be so uncomfortable? Two blokes checked the tickets and then spent their time siding litter. One was learning apparently, a policeman in a former life. Another coffee from the drinks on wheels service from a volunteer lady who didn’t know what was what, though part of the price of the coffee went to a good cause. Dyce wondered if tax would be the downfall of Labour. Pete betrayed his socialist prejudice – he’d little room for other ways of financing the big projects. There’s plenty of hills and fields all the way but beyond a certain indefinable spot that’s all there is. Somewhere just before Skipton.

Dyce’d arranged transport from Garsdale. In previous years he’d rung Mr. Ellis’s minibus. It’d transmogrified into Mrs. Ellis’s taxi, subsidised by the local council.

She brought them up to date. Dennis Dinsdale had lost his battle with liver disease. The captain of the cricket team had also died. The deserted house on the hill that belonged to Prince Charles’s godfather. Some gossip about a wedding.

A walk over to Raydale that got lost in the mist and finished on the same side of the fell at Burtersett. Still there was a stroll to Bainbridge.

A butcher that didn’t do any butchering. ‘Ave you any fat?’ ‘No. We only get the meat delivered. They don’t send any fat with it.’

Falling asleep in front of the TV.

Then Geoff arrived. At one time he used to get an itch, scratch a bit and go on the sick. They must be wise to him. Has to wait for three o’clock on a Friday and cane it up the A1. Still the food was in, minus the fat.

Few beers at The Crown.

Dyce tidied the lounge, getting the table ready.

Pete disappeared upstairs to tidy his sock drawer.

Noise from the kitchen. Strange certainly unmusical. Dyce carried on tidying. Pete still absent.

Strange noise continued. Dyce couldn’t place it. Was it coming from outside? Seemed to be coming from the kitchen. Getting louder. A strangling noise.

Dyce decided to leave the tidying – he was setting the table. A loose leaf job that you sided away when not in use. How sensible and practical is that? With drawers for knives and forks, and table mats, and a cloth.

He located the noise in the kitchen. Geoff was leaning over the earthenware sink in the corner, arms apart and braced on the sink sides. The noise was coming from his mouth. Was he being sick?

‘Come on Jagg,’ said Dyce, ‘before you’re sick. Let’s get outside.’

He put his arm round Geoff’s shoulders and guided him out of the back door into the alleyway. He wasn’t breathing too well. Dyce got him up against the downspout ready to spew into the gutter. ‘Just there Geoff, get on with it.’

Still Geoff didn’t throw up. He’d braced his arms against the wall again, like trying to open his chest. Dyce stood behind him, unsure and a tiny bit puddled from the beer at The Crown.

Geoff croaked then, that desperate sound of trying to get air in known as stridor. In distress. Two grown men not knowing what to do. Until the penny dropped somewhere in the recesses of Dyce’s brain – if there is such a thing as a penny dropping after four pints of bitter.

Dyce got in position to roger Geoff, folding his arms forward around the top of Geoff’s belly. Anyone looking up the alley from the main road would have got totally the wrong idea. Dyce tensed his embrace and suddenly leaned backwards and tried to punch Geoff’s breastbone at the same time.

Geoff coughed and leaned forward. Dyce fell forward and banged his head on the downspout – ‘Shit.’

‘F…ing hell, what the f..k was all that about,’ said Geoff in between great inbreaths. Dyce returned to some sort of consciousness in time for Geoff to point out a piece of beef the size of a half crown lying in the drain.

‘Let’s get back in,’ said Dyce. He surruptitiously picked up the beef piece.

It was quiet for a bit then as the two of them took in what had happened and what might have happened. Geoff got on cutting the meat and getting the rest of the meal together. Pete arrived – not stupid –  and sensed an atmosphere, ‘What’s going off?’

Geoff carried on what he was doing, while Dyce told the tale, gradually realising he’d just saved Geoff’s life. He quietly placed the beef piece on Geoff’s plate.

‘Good job you were here.’ Truth be known, Dyce had no training in the Heimlich manoevre.

‘You may think that, but I’ve only ever seen it in Mrs Doubtfire the movie with Robin Williams as a woman. Oh and When Harry Met Sally.’

‘What would you have done if it hadn’t worked?’

‘Good question, a tracheostomy.’

‘Shit.’

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