of the chicken house," our neighbour told us.
These neighbours live two doors away. We have never had much to do with them. They are, to put it kindly, "slow". He was a twin and suffered some brain damage at birth that left him with a below average learning ability. He spent his years at school in a special class. He said very little at any time and increasing deafness made it more difficult.
His wife is pleasant but also not very bright. Their marriage has been stormy and she was often physically abused. We heard horrendous tales from our previous neighbours and say the police there more than once. Nothing was ever done although I filled out more than one set of papers for her she would always withdraw at the last moment.
Despite their problems he held down a job at the same factory for all his working life. They had three girls, all of whom were more able than they are. They have gone on to have careers, marriage and children.
I could sometimes see him working in his garden or in his tiny shed.
Yesterday his wife told us that he had climbed on to the roof of the old chicken house. There are no longer chickens in it but he has things stored there and apparently it was leaking. It is only about 1.5m high but he slipped, fell backwards and landed on his head as well as cracking his ribs and his coccyx.
This happened last Sunday but nobody knew anything about it. It was a day of wild weather. He must have gone out in the rain and climbed a very slippery roof.
He has been in hospital since then. He is in an induced coma because of the broken ribs but now they have had to do further surgery, including a tracheotomy. It is intensely distressing for her. She was in tears as she told us the whole sorry tale.
I wondered about all of this. Here is a man who has been morose, sometimes violent, often verbally abusive and rarely pleasant. She is a "battered" wife.who has never had the courage or intellectual capacity to leave him and yet she is still upset by what has happened, upset for him. She has shown more compassion and care than many people show at any time.
I think that, in a way, I admire her.