“Your Kung Fu’s Pretty Good, Old Man. You’re Not Too Bad, Either – Old Woman!”
ORTHOPAEDIC ORIENTAL ADVENTURES PROUDLY PRESENTS:
Part three of love’s great adventure, and this time we go to a ‘mysterious nursing-home of the Manchester Orient’, where Grandma, Grandpa and wall-mounted weapons await, in what I hope is a humorous escapade involving throwing stars and a light, eggy breakfast; just as soon as Grandpa has found his way out of the bathroom and Grandma remembers who he is.
Cue Carl Douglas’ Kung Fu Fighting crackling into life on the phonograph at 45rpm…
hen Grandma became a Seventh Dan of Chai Gan Wo, Grandpa had to follow suit. Before long, he was also launching rather acrobatic attacks from the top of the stairs, knee joints popping, whopping the wooden practice sword with the natural grace of an abandoned typewriter. His ‘Huy!’ was a potential heart attack.
Over the weeks, the doddery dance-of-dementia escalated, with the slight whiff of Deep Heat.
Grandma retaliated with her own version of Chang Cha – Drunken Monkey Technique – involving no actual monkey, but a generous tot of gin, a sharpened walking frame, and the whizz of nunchucks spun from bird-like wrists.
You might think that Grandpa stood not-a-chance – stuck for over twenty minutes in ‘bullet time’ as his back gave out, or when a nun (or chuck) clobbered his jaw with a plastic chackeroo, and his teeth rattled along the floor like escaped tap shoes. Not so. He gave as good as he got, cackling wildly as he spun – a master of Mr Chaplin’s Cane Gu – on a long-handled walking stick, and swept Grandma’s swollen feet from under her. It was a move he’d seen in The Tramp.
“Use your enemy’s mass against them,” his home-help had advised.
And this, indeed, was fruitful advice, as the continent that was Grandma went over like a plated whale, only to be caught on two fingers, hardened through years of Ko Lung Crochet.
“Think again, old man!” she growled, producing a vicious array of knitting needles and looped chains of spiked macramé. The sofa was quickly punctured with a deadly volley of knitted ephemera, the weave of death carefully followed from a pattern in Martial Crafts.
Barbed wire, it seems, is knittable.
Grandpa back-flipped behind the sofa, using the simple expedient of slipping on one of Lionel’s – their grandson’s – toy cars and was lost to view, railwayman’s tie fluttering around his head.
Grandma knew this was not the end.
Lights out! An insanely fast, shuffled attack from Grandpa!
She flicked on the radio and caught the last of the Archers, before his huffing and puffing eventually closed like a steam train, firmly on the siding, and a bony hand shot out with the cutting power of a spatula. This was blocked, minutes later, with the hefted end of a bed pan. K’tang!
Both combatants circled, with the cronk-squeak of rubber feet on walking frames, the shuffled drag of battle-worn slippers, and the gleeful sneering of the infirm. Who would find an opening first? Grandma with her inedible rock-cakes, bundled up in the ass-end of an old pair of tights – heavy as lead? Or, Grandpa, ready with that disgusting pipe of his – to parry a wild blow, create a fug-screen of Old Hoban, or gouge for an eye with the gnawed, plastic stem?
He could wish. Grandma’s eyes glittered in the darkness like a cobra with cataracts.
“Time for your suppository, old man,” howled Grandma, jaw cracking, lips dribbled and speckled with liver spots. The gesture she made with the TV remote control was quite disconcerting.
The white-haired ninja merely laughed, a dull “mwah, mwah, mwah!” in the dubbed on tones of a twenty year old. “You’re fooling no one, old woman.” But he knew she was already tracking him in the darkness, using the smell of his own wee.
Grandpa tried for a Murray Mint – the Heimlich choking-hazard a potential disaster on aged lips. Grandma caught the throaty lozenge between knitting needles clacked together, like those chopsticks catching Miyagi’s fly.
Grandma went for a ginger throwing star – rolling her lips round her false teeth in an effort to warm up for crunch – but Grandpa slipped through her guard with a cup of Earl Grey in a best, China teacup. The saucer rattled delicately, as the razor-sharp biscuit-of-death was doused in the tepid, near black sea. Half its mass broke away, and the squichy blob bobbed on the surface like an expelled bite of an orthopaedic mattress.
Such dishonour! The band aides and support socks were off!
There was banging on the ceiling; the yowled, feedback-howl of hearing aids; ugly gouging with rattley old elbows; and – quite disgracefully for a nursing home – the police were called twice.
Eventually, after the Night of a Hundred Arthritic Blows, both insomniacs dropped to the La-z-boy Recliners in front of the TV, exhaustion in every floppy sinew. They glowered at each other over their bingo wings, too proud to admit they were no longer as young as they once were.
Grandma’s hand wavered out. His, too.
They clasped hands.
“I love you, you crappy old ninja.”
“You too, you sloppy old, samurai!”
“Same time tomorrow? After The Voice?”
“Heh, heh – I wouldn’t miss it for the world… if you didn’t fight like a girl one-twentieth of your age!”
And so it went on.