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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

Care in the Community

Dear Director of Social Services,

I regret that I write to you with a confession and an apology. I am an eighty-four year old pensioner who lives alone in your area. My problem began about four years ago when I had a bad bout of the flu and I was ‘off my legs’, as they say, for nearly ten days. My daughter rang your local office of social services and told them I could not care for myself which, during that period, was quite true. I gather you were very short of social workers to assess people at the time, and the manager of your local office was worried about us old folk during the flu epidemic. He therefore agreed that I should have a home carer every morning and evening pending a full community care assessment. I assume that the shortage of social workers has continued as I have never had that assessment. As a result, my carer has just carried on calling.

I suppose I should have told you or her that I didn’t need help any more after a fortnight, but that kind lady who came to assist me had problems of her own at home and seemed to appreciate the opportunity to chat, so I didn’t like to put her off.

Initially this fitted well into my lifestyle as I would get up at five AM, go for my ten mile run and get back in time to shower and return to bed before my carer arrived to help me get up, wash, dress and transfer with a walking frame to my chair. She did not return until nine PM at night to help me undress and get to bed, so there was plenty of time to undertake my daytime hobbies of scuba-diving, hang-gliding, pot-holing and free-fall skydiving.

In my spare time, however, I must confess that I have been undertaking astronaut training which has led to my current dilemma.

I had not really been expecting to be selected for the forthcoming lunar mission but, due to a fortunate level of fitness for a man of my age, I have been chosen as ‘the first pensioner on the moon’.

My well-intentioned subterfuge will therefore inevitably come to an end. Masie, my carer, would certainly be concerned about my three week absence while on the space mission. I had considered pretending that I was in respite care in an old folk’s home during that period. She would doubtless, however, have noticed the press coverage of my moon walks.

I have to concede, therefore, that I probably do not fall within your eligibility criteria for care in the community and that your provision of services to me should possibly end.

I plan to talk frankly to Masie about this and also cancel my Meals on Wheels and my membership of the local ‘Help the Aged’ lunch club.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Robinson.

Commander and Pilot, European Lunar Mission.