At about 09:30, there was a knock on the front door. I didn’t immediately recognise the female caller, but to my surprise and delight, it was Mrs AD. I stepped outside to kiss her hello, concerned that perhaps she had called to tell me that her mother had died. In fact she had called to check how the Old Man was. I invited her in. She could only stay for half an hour, she said; she was on her way to the corner shop to buy a newspaper.
Mrs AD told me that her mother had been admitted to Peakville Infirmary. She was due to turn 97 in December. Mrs AD had found her at home in pain, and at first unable to speak, after a fall. She had broken one of her legs at the ankle, and the other leg further up: so on one side she had been in plaster to the hip. There is some hope that she will return home eventually.
Mrs AD’s aunt E, the sister of her mother, is 98 and still living in her own bungalow. (Her husband died in his 90s a few years ago. I remember him referring more than once, in the early 1960s, to “the Hoovercraft, transport of the future”.)
Mrs AD is eleven months younger than I am, but she is considering whether to retire next year. For organisational reasons, she would be earning less the year after next than next year.
Her daughter is at the university of S, studying Criminology. She had been considering joining the police after graduating, but when some incident occurred locally, to which the police were called out, she was able to discuss careers in the police with a police officer and as a result she is reconsidering. What has put her off is the grim aspects of the job, the boring routine aspects, and the prospect of shift-work. (I remarked to Mrs AD that any job has boring routine aspects, even that of the prime minister or the pope — it was the last day of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain.) When she does graduate, she will most likely return from S to her parents’ house in Littletown. She is Mr & Mrs AD’s only child, and Mrs AD is herself an only child.
Mrs AD agreed that our generation had been fortunate, with free university education, final-salary pensions and suchlike.
I kissed Mrs AD goodbye on the other cheek.
A little later, I saw Mr CJ, with Charlie and Karl on their scooters, heading to the corner shop and then coming back. (Subsequently, Mrs CJ told me that she had asked the boys, “Who wants to go to the corner shop with grandad?” No response. “Who wants to go to the corner shop on their scooters?” Enthusiastic response.)
[Original posting 19 September 2011]