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DAVID HOGARTH: My wish list for old age

PUBLISHED: 10:35 05 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:08 07 September 2010

The first time I really felt old was at a concert at Hampstead Parish Church. I offered my money and the kind ticket lady looked at me in surprise. Didn t I want the concession? Then last January 21 somebody stood up and offered me a seat on the Tube. It

The first time I really felt old was at a concert at Hampstead Parish Church. I offered my money and the kind ticket lady looked at me in surprise. Didn't I want the concession?

Then last January 21 somebody stood up and offered me a seat on the Tube.

It wasn't the first time ever but the time before I'd had a sling on my arm. (Still, when you think of all the stairs in most stations it's some evidence of residual youthfulness that I can use the Tube at all.)

However, now there's no getting away from it. Next Wednesday is my 70th, so old age really has caught up with me.

In case the authorities are in doubt about what presents I would like, here is my list:

A Tube (and Overground) I can still use when my legs are even worse.

Bus drivers who smile back.

A volunteer driver scheme for old people like the one they have in Kensington and Chelsea.

A Westminster time bank. (You do something for your neighbour and get a credit in time which you use to pay another neighbour who does something for you. Or you can give it away.)

Hospitals where, if I die, it's entirely because of what I went in with.

The council to sign up pubs and other places so that I can have a pee free on presentation of my Freedom Pass.

Never having to chase up an email to the city council.

A lift that doesn't break down in Devonshire House.

Free link alarms for all older people living alone.

Peace, quiet and safety if I have to go into Westminster sheltered housing.

Home carers who, to paraphrase Marian Harrington, provide "a high quality service for the agreed length of time" (cheerfully, too).

A reminder of the pavement hotline number on the lampposts beside the paving stones that nearly polish us off.

Double yellow lines so, when I get my scooter, I can be sure that no car will bar my way when I use the dropped kerbs.

And when I have to give up my old van, scratch cards so that my nieces from Brent and Loughton can park in the res-park bays and look after me.

An endless stream of Christabel Flight events (tea dances, music hall afternoons, what next?)

A first out, first pick policy. (Those likely to pass on soonest to have the best of everything while they're still around).

Any impression that parts of the above are not in deadly earnest would be misleading.

Thanking you in advance.

David Hogarth is the chair of Westminster Older People's Action Group.


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