On the subject of old age and abandonment...
Sounds grim, doesn't it? But old age is not a walk in the park, and from time to time it is worth considering the reality, which is not bad, but not that good either...
So I am back in my usual trade today, as a social research interviewer, walking the streets of old Glasgow town, and counting the hard stairs up the tenements to the third floor, and hoping to find someone who wants to pass the time of day and share their wisdom and life with me.
There are days when not a door is opened to me, and scurrying between addresses, the wind and rain shrinks my morale, but this was not one of those days.
No, this was a gloriously sunny June afternoon.
( Then stopping for a puff and a pant on each landing: these stairs are harder the older I get, and I’m not even 70 yet…)
So, for once it’s a good day, and in just three calls, I get two (one hour long) interviews and one appointment for tomorrow.
I’m used to squalor: this is not untypical for social housing in Scotland.
But today I was mainly in more comfortable territory, traditional stone-built tenements, with a very great mixture of social ‘types’ : young students, better-off pensioners, and then…
A very elderly lady, fallen on hard times, visibly disabled and distressed, and effectively locked into her third-floor flat. It is obvious immediately that she is unwell, and the scene in the corridor behind her is one of squalor and neglect, with clutter everywhere.
She answers the door, but hangs back uncertainly, clearly unwilling to let me in because she is ashamed of the mess, but at the same time, really desperate to talk: about her health, her relatives, her isolation.
She talks a lot, I just listen.
We agree to meet tomorrow on neutral ground, a local cafe nearby.
Will she turn up or not? Who knows?