So I was going to write about something totally different – though I’ve forgotten what – but after scanning the BBC news pages, I thought I’d get on my high-horse and go crusading.

A couple of years back, husband and I were in a hifi store. He was trying to educate me (read: talk me into not having a fit when he bought a new amp) and I was duly disinterested. The sales clerk had just been over and had tried to sell us one of those mini hifi systems and S- had taken great pleasure in boasting about the virtues of his home cinema set up by comparison. I watched as the clerk then went over to speak to an elderly woman, also looking at amps.
“The radio in my amplifier has broken,” she explained when asked if there was anything she needed help with, “I just need a cheap new one.”
“You can’t really get those any more,” the clerk explained as if speaking to a child, “You’d have to get one of these mini systems.” He pointed to the one he’d just tried to sell us.

Something twigged in my brain and I tuned back in to what S- was saying.
“… and that’s why I need to fill the house with 7 billion cables.*” I whacked him on the arm and nodded to the exchange I’d been watching, noting his brow furrow.
“About ten of these amps have a built-in radio…”
“Which is cheapest?” He pointed to a sleek-looking black box in the corner. I walked over to it and, raising my voice to ensure it carried I stared at the clerk and said, “Look S-, this is the amp I wanted. The cheap one with the built-in radio.”
The lady glanced over, smiled widely and made her way to another clerk to ask about the amp while I glared daggers at the little slimy git who’d presumed that because his customer was old, she was stupid.

I came out of the shop fuming, ready to tell anyone who looked at me for longer than half a nano-second about the injustice I’d witnessed. And then I started thinking about other injustices I’d seen over the years. I remembered my Nan – who regular readers may have noticed was my absolute hero – and the day the doctors told her she had Parkinson’s. I was in the clinic with her – 17 years old and passionate. She had just moved up to Aberdeen from Sheffield and explained the tests she’d had done, and that her doctor had spoken about Parkinson’s. The consultant dismissed her, saying they needn’t worry about that sort of thing, asked her a series of questions and then asked her if she’d ever heard of something called Parkinson’s disease. If he’d just bothered to listen to her to begin with, he’d have saved himself looking like a twat. Nan, having a very dry sense of humour, told him she’d never heard of Parkinson’s and ‘oh yes’ed and ‘oh no’ed in all the right places.

There were a dozen other things I could have listed and even a cup of tea couldn’t calm me down, so when I got home, I contacted what was the called Help the Aged and volunteered. They put me in touch with my 85 year old drinking buddy and life hasn’t been the same since. The other day we were comparing stories about our first cars and it’s amazing that regardless of whether your first motor was a ’36 Ford or a ’92 VW Polo, the human experience behind it is just the same. I remarked on this my friend smiled,
“I get a shock every time I look in the mirror,” he said, “I expect to see a young man in his naval uniform, ready to go out and pull. You never really change from your teen years on – you just get a bit wiser to the world and feel increasingly under the weather towards the end.”

That’s why I thought I’d write about the BBC article I linked to above. The elderly neighbour, the woman in the hifi shop, the Sunday driver crawling slowly through country lanes with his indicator still on half an hour after he last turned – they are ourselves in a few short years’ time.

And if we don’t start doing something about how they’re treated, we’re going to end up in exactly the same predicament.

I’ll get off my high-horse now and go back to my knitting.


*That wasn’t actually what he said, but when translated from Stereo-Geek to English, that’s pretty much what it meant.