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Monday 15 April 2024

How did this happen?

Horrid details continue to emerge of invalids and oldsters (more often combinations of both) suffering the tortures of the damned in the UK’s not-so-well welfare state. VR and I are very old UK invalids but there are times when our existence is closer to Easy Street. For three weeks in March we were ministered to by Grandson Ian, an expert and ambitious cook, later for a week by his Mum, Professional Bleeder. Both away from their home in Luton. Occasional Speeder, who lives nearer, was in and out throughout this period

Properly cooked and exotic food replaced the miserable offerings I typically come up with. Drinks arrived unbidden. Shopping happened as if via an invisible conveyor belt. Chat and argument enlivened our waking hours. Julie, our cleaner, took on more domestic drudgery. Re-adjusting afterwards took a little while.

There’s no doubt VR deserved this cossetting. But did I? As a father you could say I contributed in absentia. How could I do otherwise when in Tokyo, Caracas or Munich? Not only was I away I was doing a job I liked. Had I been filling potholes things might have seemed fairer. Instead I was merely asking questions. What kind of work was that?

Some offspring drop their parents altogether. Fair enough; there is no official training for parents and plenty of us get it wrong. In any case awful problems may arise out of different tastes in music. I’m the only one taking singing lessons

Is there an obligation either way? If so can it be enforced, other than through perceptions of guilt? I have to say I feel twinges when a gin and tonic appears in my hand; not even asked for, yet exactly hitting a spot I haven’t even identified. Is it just unexplained magic?  


  1. It has been my observation that as parents you get as good as you give. It doesn't have to be time and attention - not always -but sincere interest and appreciation and obviously love will come back in spades. Count yourselves lucky but also know that you must have done a good job

    1. Sabine: But it's often hard to judge what constitutes a good parent. Those who are over-generous are said to have spoilt the child. Those who try to inculcate moral principles are condemned as cruelly authoritarian. And those who - like me - aren't around are thought neglectful. As I said there is no rule book. All we can say for sure is the old cliché that children grow up, are subject to influences other than the family and become adults bearing little resemblance to what they were when young. Circumstances have allowed us to spread our cash around more lavishly in an economic climate where cash is often in short supply. Both our daughters have appreciated this and have said so. But this is hardly parenting.

  2. Yes, it is just unexplained magic. I don't think you need to feel guilt. They wouldn't bring you a drink unless they wanted to make you happy. Enjoy.

  3. Colette: It's no good, I can't resist the temptation. Replace "happy" with "unconscious". Sorry.