BY GEORGE LAWSON
As a care home manager, I am always looking for new ways to keep our residents entertained. The days of care home managers allowing their residents to sit there and stare into mid-air all day long are, thankfully, a thing of the past. We aim to keep our residents’ minds open and active, so we have built an in-house cinema and we bring in all kinds of entertainers from outside as well as employing staff who double as singers and magicians. Our janitor Bob has even been known to double as a human cannonball at our summer fete.
Of course, as soon as word was out that we were a care home that liked to entertain, we were bombarded by all kinds. We had emails from yodellers, letters from dancers and were even approached by hard-up strippers. Most we have had to turn away, as we put the welfare of our residents first and we dread the day our striving to entertain results in injury or death (some of our residents have had multiple cardiac arrests in the past).
I am an especially conservative and careful care home boss. So I blame our chief nurse Barbara for hiring Harry the hypnotist.
Harry was a friend of a friend of Barbara’s and I am the first to admit that I’d never heard of him and was naturally suspicious. I did enquire if he was one of those adult hypnotists and Barbara confirmed that he would keep things nice and civil. The care home medic seemed to think a professional hypnotist would do no harm to our residents, so I eventually caved to Barbara and agreed Harry’s £50 fee. Certainly, the residents were excited about Harry’s appearance, and many signed up for that particular evening’s post-tea entertainment.
When Harry arrived, I was duly impressed. Harry was well turned out and wore a remembrance poppy, which I knew would please the harder-to-please ex-servicemen and ladies we had staying with us. He talked me through his routine and it all seemed like fairly harmless fun. So, I ensured that the residents were plied with sherry and mini cheddars and that they all welcomed Harry to the wonderful and oft-used stage that we built a few years ago at the back of the resident dining hall.
After a polite round of applause and the standard loud “isn’t he handsome?” from Mrs Bourne (one of our long-term, very deaf residents), Harry carefully explained to listeners and lip-readers that he was going to put the whole audience into a trance. “Each and every one of you and all at the same time,” he said.
Some of the residents seemed sceptical. Nonetheless there was general anticipation across the room. The excited chatter amongst the residents dropped to silence as Harry carefully withdrew from his waistcoat pocket a beautiful, antique gold pocket watch and chain.
“I want you to keep your eyes on this watch” he said, holding the watch high for all to see, as it glinted under the fluorescent strips in the resident dining hall.
“It is a very special and valuable watch that has been in my family for six generations”, Harry announced to oohs and aahs in the audience. And Harry began to swing the watch gently back and forth while quietly chanting, “Watch the watch ….. Watch the watch …… Watch the watch…..Watch the watch….”
The audience became mesmerised as the watch swayed back and forth. The lights were twinkling as they were reflected from its gleaming surfaces. I tried not to be hypnotised myself and so focused on the crowd rather than Harry, who I could see were drifting off. I remember thinking, “This Harry is good. I’m impressed.” A hundred and fifty pairs of eyes followed the movement of the gently swaying watch. They were actually being hypnotised!
Then, suddenly, Harry’s watch chain snapped.
Harry’s beautiful antique watch fell to the stage and burst apart on impact, parts scattering hither and tither.
“SHIT!” said Harry.
It took us many hours to clean up the resident dining hall.
Harry was very apologetic and mucked in with the clear-up operation.
Nonetheless, he shall not be invited back.