viernes, 13 de noviembre de 2009

An Elderly Man on Solitude. WEDNESDAY 09 SEPTEMBER 2009. by Hanah Baldock

Solitude came as a shock to retired policeman Bill Baldock 92 who grew up in a family with eleven brothers and sisters before living with his wife for sixty years until she died in 2003.

Coming from a big family and having been a police officer for fifty years, Bill had been used to camaraderie and teamwork and he naturally gravitated to social games like bowls, golf and horse racing. When he lost his wife and found himself too old to continue his favourite outdoor activities he got despondent and downcast, 'I had never been on my own. It shook me. It took me a long time to get over it. I didn't know what to do. And sometimes when you feel lonely you think well what good am I being alive, why do I want to go on?'

Bill did find a way to go on and he emphasises the need to make an effort to snap out of feeling lonely, 'Gradually I made up my mind to get on with things. I started cooking, which I had never done. I never bought more than I needed each day so I used to go up to the shops for a couple of hours. Then I would have a bet in the betting shop for another hour. That helps a lot. I just pick a horse out of the paper, go round and put a bet on in the betting shop, come home and watch to see if it wins or not. And the next day collect the winnings.

I used to walk along the road and meet people, and have a chat with them. I was always nice to them and they were nice to me, I talk to them and thank them, tell them It’s lovely seeing you and now I have created quite a few friendships and they always come, either ring the bell and say, can I do some shopping for you and, do you want anything done? That is the essence of it, meeting people.

It helps to have something to look forward to, so I have regular meetings in my diary. Every month I go to the Heart Foundation coffee morning down the road, the ladies bake different cakes and you put your pound in the box. Tuesday I have a drink with Gordon up the road. His wife died a week after mine and after the cremation, it was a Tuesday, we decided to go and have a drink at the local pub. From that day we have met every Tuesday, I buy two pints and he buys two pints, but as I say he gets the cheapest beer!

There is a book club down my street now, there are eight pensioners that go to that. Some others attend court cases and tribunals to hear the cases of interest, they go and sit in the back and listen, it gets them interested...'

Bill says it gets easier to cope with solitude as time goes by but the loneliness still returns. 'Some days, you don't see a soul. Unless you make it your business to go out. And you don't like to call on people on a Sunday because they want Sunday to themselves, don't they, after a week at work? You think too much when you are on your own. You have to keep busy. It makes a difference to your health. I am sure if I didn't go out or do something, I would be bad for my nervous system.

Bill reckons it is better to keep your mind in the moment and not think too much about the past or future. When I am lying in bed I wonder what is going to happen to me? Who's going to look after me? Even knowing that I shall be looked after, I get uneasy and worried about it. Then when I get up and have a cup of tea, I forget about all that.

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