Opinion – By Peter Carr.
Over a couple of recent weeks the management of our retirement village have generously arranged a series of lunches to celebrate the end of the – possibly wrongly worded – lockdown period.
The heavy handed nature of lockdown titillates the mind to envisage dungeon-entrapped elderly people awaiting the great enlightenment of the arrival of Level 2.
For reasons best known to themselves the health industry – or at least its bureaucrats – had decided that on the day of one’s 70th birthday all manner of invading demons are at play to weaken and debilitate us all. Well Dr Ashley – get this – we have come a long and hard-working way to achieve this pinnacle of still breathing. And remind your political masters that those of us who still have our own teeth can bite. Especially in an election year.
The ever-enlarging ballooning of those of more advanced years is bringing with it a political force – or perhaps strength – hitherto never apparent in this country. I have mentioned before that 82 is now the new 65. Where physical fitness classes and open air exercising plus improved dietary options are producing octogenarians (and higher) who are delighted to hang on in and enjoy their pensions – however meagre they are. Not to mention the winter heating allowance. And the rates rebates. It is a pleasure to span the obituaries each day – in essence checking that I am not on the list – and to find a large proportion of people rolling on well into their 90’s. The fine example of the (now) Honorary Colonel Sir Tom in England is living proof of that.
And a great deal of that stems back to our fathers and grandfathers who, without hesitation, took off to two major military conflicts during the previous century to fight to maintain both freedom and longevity. Vale to them – and it was both an honour and a pleasure to stand at my letterbox on April 25 looking across the croquet lawn at my fellow villagers, all with special memories of their own. And all still with much to live for.
And still with much to give. Many of them are still active in the community giving time and skills to aid those who are either finding themselves on hard times or perhaps seeking new skills that these old ‘uns can pass on freely and willingly.
So next time you see a frail person being supported by a walking frame – or dodge those who charge across roads on their flag-bedecked scooters (looking fixedly ahead) take time to greet them. They are not talking gibberish. They have keen minds, long memories and a heap of love to give to their fellow beings. They may cause you to slow down in the supermarket checkout queue while they struggle to handle their credit card – and put it away again – but mark this. One day you will be the same. In exchange for their advice, love and knowledge a gentle ‘Hi – how are you?’ – goes a hell of a long way.