Whew, what a morning we have had. We were alerted that something was not right by Jack continually barking which is not like him.
I went to the front door only to hear someone calling out our next-door-neighbour's name. It was his gardener who cuts his lawn for him and generally does some tidying up. Thinking that was all it was, I closed the door and came back into the house.
A few minutes later, the gardener knocked on our front door. He said he could be mistaken but he was sure he had heard our neighbour, Charlie, saying he could not get up.
Now, when Charlie was having all his hip surgery before and could not cope, the social services fitted a key box to the outside of his door. The box contained the key to the house and a special code had to be punched in in order to retrieve the key. Social services asked Mike if he would be the key holder so to speak and when Mike agreed, they gave him the code number.
All was well for several months and Mike did all his shopping and got his papers each day using the key and also had to enter twice, once when Charlie had a fall and once when he got stuck in the toilet and trapped.
Then he seemed to make a good recovery, Charlie said he no longer needed help and all was quiet. The box remained though, just as a precaution.
As soon as the gardener voiced his worries to Mike, Mike sped around there and punched in the code for the box - no key inside. No windows open, all the house secure - absolutely no way in.
The gardener left and Mike came back. We had the mobile number of Charlie's son although we knew that for personal reasons between himself and his father, he did not have a key. But, we thought at least he could contact one of his sisters who both live some way away. There was no answer on the mobile.
Mike went back and yelled and yelled at the windows, through the letterbox, banged as hard as he could. Nothing, no sound. I decided that the only thing to do was call the Police.
I dialled our local station, after taking a few details they put me through to the right department who were extremely helpful and said they would send someone as soon as possible. Ten minutes later a police car drew up. Mike met them. They tried all the things he had done to no avail. To break into the premises they had to get permission from a higher authority and that was about ten minutes coming through.
Then the police officer got a crowbar from the rear of his car and proceeded to force open the front door. By this time another police car had arrived and naturally, passing vehicles were slowing down to see what was going on and passers-by were staring. I was also worried in case it was a false alarm and we had put in an emergency call for nothing. My heart was racing I can tell you.
Charlie had taken a fall. The police immediately sent for an ambulance. In the meantime a paramedic had arrived in a car. Our little lane was getting quite crowded. Whilst Mike was comforting Charlie and helping the police, I was talking to a police officer and one of the paramedics who wanted to know as much about him as possible. By now there were two police cars, one paramedic car and an ambulance.
I explained that we used to have entry but not any longer, that he had no carers going in and the family came down rarely. They asked me if he had any previous falls and I had to tell them what I have told you above. He has also become very confused lately and is obviously suffering from Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia.
After notifying his family and thanking us for being good neighbours and telling us we had done exactly the right thing, the police all left. The paramedics were marvellous. They decided he was going off to the hospital for a complete check over. It was obvious when they tried to get him into the ambulance that he was very confused. He refused a wheelchair or stretcher and wanted to get in himself, but he could not cope with the steps and when they put the ramp down, he did not seem to know what to do, instead of heading into the ambulance, he turned back towards the house. They were very patient with him, so kind. But they gave us their opinion that, in the state he is in, he should not now be living there on his own.
We had to agree but then the decision is not ours. That is up to himself and his family. It was a big worry. We did not know whether the police would find a body when they went inside.
Mike spoke to his daughter on the phone as the police found the number after they had entered. She will be going straight to the hospital and has said she will let us know how he is. She thanked Mike for what he had done and then proceeded to apologise to him. Apparently Charlie has been running us down left, right and centre, saying what dreadful neighbours we are and all manner of other nasty things about us. Mike was very hurt when he told me. He has been so good to Charlie, much better than his own family have been. I was initially hurt but then pointed out to Mike that this was another indication of Alzheimer's. I went through some of this with my own dear father.
The whole incident from start to finish took over two hours and both of us our shattered. Still, we have done what we needed to do, we have been good neighbours. Now we both need a cup of tea and a rest.