Old Matches – an extract

Today I wanted to share an extract from one of my short stories. This was influenced from a year when I spent a summer and winter working weekends in a care home. People work so hard in these environments and currently the shortage of staff is very much in the News. Here is a sample of ‘Old Matches’.

People in care homes often have such touching stories.

My back hurt. My legs ached. My head was pounding. The only thing making me feel like life wasn’t that bad right now was the fact that I was surrounded by a lot of people who were much older than me. In fact, they were older in years but many of them seemed a lot happier than me. Carefree came to mind with most of them. All except for one. Bob. Bob was like looking at a reflection of myself in the mirror. Not that I was nearly as old as him and probably I had time to collect that many wrinkles, but it was his demeanour that reminded me of me. He always looked like he had just missed the bus, which meant that he had an expression that declared he was fed up, worn out, past bothering and keen for time to pass. That was me without any doubt.


I was fed up with doing twelve hour shifts at this ridiculously short staffed care home. I was worn out by the fact that it was a very practical and quite back-breaking job. In my love life I had come to feel that quite frankly it wasn’t worth bothering any more. Yes – just like Bob, I spent my days waiting for time to pass. Although I was never really sure what I was waiting for. In fact, like Bob, I had that miserable feeling that I had missed my calling. Again, sadly, nobody had yet revealed to me what exactly that calling should be.


As I drifted off into my own little world as usual and sipped my tea with a slurp, I had no idea that I had been targeted to look after a new member of staff.

The first I knew about it was when Bob said, “Give us a cup of tea!’ in his usual mannerless way.

‘Just let me have two minutes Bob,’ I replied sternly.

‘I weren’t talking to you, dingbat. I meant her,’ came his short reply.

I turned my head to see a new girl standing behind me. She had just walked in and Bob had already grabbed her attention. As she poured him a tea she looked at me with a squint, trying to read my badge.

‘Oh, you’re James,’ she said in a fresh northern accent.

‘Yes and you will have to excuse Bob. Just his way.’

She handed him the cup and asked him to try it. He tried hard to smile so as to get her to go away. You never really knew if he was satisfied. He was not the sort of man to show emotions apart from unhappiness. Grumpy was the name most of us used for him affectionately. I always felt sorry for him though as nobody ever came to see him. His wife had died many years previously and he was alone in the world. Quite mysterious though and very guarded. It certainly made us all intrigued about his past.

I wrote a book of short stories called ‘Short Dates’ and here is another sample of it. If you enjoy my posts perhaps consider subscribing to my blog for similar future articles.

15 thoughts on “Old Matches – an extract

  1. This is a great story. It’s also melancholy because, before my grandma died, they took her to a place where old people live. I saw many elderly people with no one left in the world sitting alone at a table, and I just couldn’t imagine what they did with their time–how sad it must be to live in a place like that. I had the idea of visiting them more often while my grandma was there…unfortunately she passed away in that place (on Christmas Eve…) and it’s way too triggering for me to go there now. I hope my old age isn’t so lonely.

    Thank you for sharing–this was a great read. 🙂

  2. This made me think of my grandparents and great aunt — both in a sad way (they’re all no longer here) and in an affirming way because of all the happy memories and their own funny/grumpy ways. I’d definitely like to read more about Bob — thanks for sharing!

  3. I think senior healthcare workers are absolute heroes, and yet y’all never paint yourselves that way. it’s always about the clients, the residents. You do such a fantastic job of subtly shifting reader interest from your own journey to that of Bob’s past. Definitely interested in how they itnertwine.

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