A really gorgeous day.

I'm so tired these days ~ as death approaches, I guess ~ instead of being up and doing by 7.30 it takes me all my time to crawl out of bed ~ this morning it was 9.0 o'clock by the time I sat down to breakfast ~ and by lunchtime I'm so exhausted I'm practically passing out ~ I remember Mother in her eighties having to crash out on the sofa in the same way ~ bless her !   Her passion was PATIENCE at which she was a wizz ~ she had been a Patience fanatic for years and could never just sit and talk, or watch telly ~ she invariably had a double pack of cards out and a look of fierce concentration ~ she always won, of course, though none of us understood the rules of her games.   And she was quite possibly cheating !

We are all rather proud of the gate and it should mean we don't get intruders up the yard at night, peeing and vomiting after the pub ~ it looks absolutely splendid too.   Annie from over the wall rang to explain her family had got her a new alarm clock which she could not turn off so she flung it out of the window into my garden where it lay smashed but still ringing !

Jean and Terry rang to remind me to watch FREEVIEW 17 for a night of ghosts and ghoulies ~ I scanned through all the channels available to me but could not find it ~ maybe they have a special disk or dish or facility ~ not to worry ~ I am pretty sceptical of other people's ghost stories.

I found the piece about Allen published in The Guardian I see on December 15th 1994 so I've known him a good long while.   It appeared as "Welfare Unfair" in the P.S. column in which anyone could write anything ~ over a couple of years they took 3 or 4 of my articles ~ 600 words maximum I seem to remember.

Welfare Unfair

My friend Allen is in his early fifties.   He has never married.   He and his old mum live in the modest house that his father built them before the War.   The house is in his mother’s name.

Each autumn while his married sister goes home to look after their mother, Allen comes to Whitby for his annual holiday.   This time I could see that something was seriously wrong with my friend.   Instead of our usual treks across the moors, Allen was reduced to pottering round locally, driving where he used to walk.  A gentle stroll along the beach was about as much as he could manage, and most afternoons he trailed back to his B & B for a sleep.

His mother is the problem.   At 87 she is senile and incontinent.   She should be in a geriatric unit, but to cover the cost of her hospitalisation  the house would have to be sold.   Mother’s house.   Allen’s home.

Allen is no fool and knows his rights better than most of us.  Until things got so bad at home, he was on the local council and a strong union man.   But there is no two ways about it.   If he puts the poor old soul into care the house will be taken to cover the cost.   To keep a roof over his head he struggles on.   With his full-time job at the foundry and his other job nursing his Mam.

She no longer knows him.   While he is at work he has to shut her in the living room.   The gas has been disconnected for fear of accidents.   More than once she’s been found wandering round the streets, sometimes naked.   During the day a kind neighbour looks in and rings Allen if there is a crisis.   And there’s Meals on Wheels.  But otherwise Mam is on her own.

When he gets in at teatime Allen’s real work starts : changing her nappies, washing and feeding her, getting her to bed and then starting on the laundry, the pile of nighties and knickers and bedding that each day brings.

Invariably she will wake him two or three times during the night and often he lies there sleepless listening for her anxious cries.   He must be up at dawn to get her washed and fed and comfortable before he locks her in again and goes off to the foundry.

By the end of his week’s holiday Allen was perking up a little, but popping in to say goodbye he collapsed on the sofa and wept.

The awful possibility is that exhausted and demoralised  by this regime, he may go before she does.   Apart from the dementia, his mother is as strong as an ox.   But not Allen.   I watched him sadly as he left, a broken man shuffling back to hell.   From the look of him, he’ll be the one to end up in hospital.   And long before his next trip to Whitby.

So much for your proud statistics, Virginia.   So much for the Tories welfare state.   Shame on the lot of you, I say.

I'm happy to record that shortly after this appeared in The Guardian the regulations were changed ~ Allen was able to put his mother into care WITHOUT losing his home ~ he is retired himself now and a picture of health and happiness. bless him.  And a very dear friend.

 as published in The Guardian, December 15th 1994