NHS at 70.
At the Barbican Centre I met Derek from Putney. Both of us enjoying the excellent Dorothea Lange exhibition. I have known Derek for nearly forty years. He has always lived in the mansion flat block at the end of Dryburgh Rd where we live for 26 years.. Until he retired fifteen years ago aged seventy he was a wonderfully non computerised secretary of the Putney Society. Everything manually typed!
His Ozzie wife Alice was also very visible, as she was librarian at Adelaide’s brilliant secondary school Lady Margaret on Parsons Green. So we were on a little more than nodding terms. Derek is a great rambler and is very anti motor car,he once got run over trying to stop cars making illegal left turns into the High Street. Excellent fellow.
Five years ago Alice was struck down with dementia. She is now in a home near Bristol which cares for her 24/7 and costs £40,000a year. Derek goes to see her once a week.
So I asked how is she. Fine. Does she recognise you. Hasnt for years,barely opens her eyes. Its such a waste. Since society wont do it we have to ourselves. I have thought about going to Beachy Head when the time comes. Surely if you murdered Alice the courts would be kind and give you a suspended sentence. I wouldnt mind doing time,no shopping, a tele in the cell,three cooked meals a day.time to read,it doesn’t sound too bad. I have thought of letting the wheel chair go at the top of a hill.
So every week Derek and the grown up children make the pointless pilgimage to see their absebt mother/wife. We know several others making similar trips. I went once a week to see step father Hans who couldn’t speak for the last three years. So only two cheers for modern medicine keeping us alive longer.