Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Follow on from yesterday.

It was a local who was the perpetrator of the attack on the 84 year old, and they have already caught her. The old lady is out of hospital too.

I think reading Dominic's reply, that I must have given a totally wrong impression of what I felt yesterday. Of course - having worked with disturbed, socially deprived and less-able children for most of my working life - I know only too well what goes on behind closed doors in any community; I also know that town or country makes absolutely no difference to that. Our local paper is full each week of cases of petty crime, domestic violence etc.

This is what I was trying to get across - and I don't expect Dominic or anyone else of his age or younger to really understand. However much you think you know about old age, however well-prepared you think you are for it, until it hits you you have no idea what it is like. You feel exactly the same inside, you have the same thoughts and aspirations, if you are sensible you either don't look too closely in the mirror or, if you do, you accept the wrinkles and think of them as 'lines of experience'. But what is most difficult to accept is that physically you are weaker. Knees are usually arthritic, you don't walk as quickly, you are totally unable to defend yourself. Anyone over 75 will know that carrying a shopping bag, opening one's purse to pay for something in a shop, putting the change back into the purse and putting your purchases into your shopping
bag is a major operation. This is what makes the attack seem so unsettling - and has nothing whatsoever to do with Conan Doyle's remarks, which I am sure were as true then as they are today.
The fact that they have quickly found the perpetrator has cleared the air. I have two old friends of 87 - both steam round the town every day - their sticks tapping on the pavement. One has just lost her husband of 60 years; when I gave her a hug and said I was sorry the other day she said 'I'm not the first person it has happened to.' The other one still works in a charity shop one morning a week although she lives in sheltered accommodation. When I saw her last week and asked her how she was and how she passed her time, she said, 'I don't let myself get down, if I begin to feel miserable I just muck a cupboard out!' But both are frail and if it had been them I don't know whether either of them would have survived and if they had they would have taken a while to get their spirit back.
I had no intention of suggesting that the 'dark shadow of decay' had arrived and I agree about stupid fast drivers and Health Service cuts - all very valid points. All I am saying is that I shall definitely be holding on to my handbag a little more carefully in the future and I shall certainly not walk down the one or two lonely little cut-through alleys in the town. I shall stay firmly where there are people about and continue to meet my ageing friends (and my young ones too) but that maybe I shall be a bit wiser about it all. Hopefully the ripples created have settled quickly but I am sure there are a few ageing ladies who are feeling just a little undermined at present and we must allow them that feeling.

15 comments:

Rachel said...

I thought to myself Dominic's been reading The Guardian too much.

Dave King said...

The one thing I take from Dominic's reply was the fact that we are not a rational species. It's a truism, of course, but as with all truisms we take it for granted and lose sight of it.

Like you the bulk of my working life was spent with disturbed and/or disadvantaged children, and you are right, boundaries as between town and country like those between rich and poor do not exist when it comes to such matters. Like the weather these things can occur anywhere at any time.

I think your post puts it into perspective.

Pomona said...

I agree with you entirely - it is a matter of the difference between what is statistically unlikely and what seems personally likely. What we think and feel may not always seem rational from an impersonal and general point of view, but our fears and anxieties have their roots in the past of our species, and for you and others to feel vulnerable in response to such an occurrence close to home, both actually and metaphorically, is not an irrational response at all. I think also there is an issue of gender here - I don't think many men comprehend how and why vulnerability and fear constitute part of the female experience, and your comments about perceived physical frailty are very apposite.

Pomona x

Leanne said...

Hello, dashing in to let you know I am changing my blog to invite only from this weekend. If you still want to be able to read, please see my blog for details before then!

sorry for the rush!!

Leanne x

Heather said...

Your community must be relieved that the attacker has been caught so quickly, and that the old lady is out of hospital. She might be physically frail but, hopefully has a strong spirit to help her through this ordeal.
You are so right about old age Pat. I was 'young' while my mother was still alive but when she died aged 102 I suddenly became old myself and it was quite a shock. Keep active, keep safe and enjoy life.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

We respond to these events more strongly when they're closer to home. So while anyone getting mugged anywhere is appalling, it becomes more distressing when it happens close to home, more distressing still if it happens to someone you know, and even more shocking if it could have been you. Taking it to its logical extreme it's most terrible if it happens to you yourself! All of which has no effect on logical statistics but it still alters our perception.

Granny Sue said...

It sounds like a drug thing. We have such things happen here too, and almost always drugs are involved. How sad for the elderly lady--and how sad for her attacker too, to have lost so much of her self-respect and humanity to do such a thing. My ex-husband's elderly aunt was attacked by a man who tried to rape her. She was 92! But she beat him off and nearly bit his ear off. He rued the day, I can tell you.

Bovey Belle said...

I live in a very small and very rural area too, and so can understand the impact such an attack has on the community. All the more horrific as it was perpetrated by a middle-aged woman on an old lady and using a hammer. As someone said, one shove would probably have been enough . . .

I hope the old lady suffers no lasting ill-effects, although I should imagine she will have lost much confidence in her independence and ability to follow her old routines outside of the home. Such an attack would leave one feeling so incredibly vulnerable.

Pondside said...

Oh Pat, I've just caught up on yesterday's post. I'm so sorry that this has happened in your village - and I think you have every right to expect to be safe in a small place where nearly everyone knows everyone else. I work in an environment where violence is an everyday occurance, and I treasure my time at home and in my quiet rural community.
You wrote so very well about getting older. We are all so horrified at abuse of or violence against children, who are so innocent and defenseless, but seemingly less concerned about violence against older people who may also be defenseless.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Rachel's comment made me laugh - quite right Rachel! Thanks for the comments - they have all added brilliantly to the whole episode and helped to get it into proportion.

H said...

Of course Dominic is right that these things happen everywhere and that violence is nothing new, but that doesn't change the fears which come with an unexpected attack in your own community and I totally understand what you mean about coming to terms with old age. I am only early 50s, but I am already so aware of things which I used to find easy but are now much harder. You are wise to take precautions, but don't let fear stop you from enjoying your visits with your friends.

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

What an absolutely awful thing to happen! And a middle-aged woman? Insane...

Sure crimes will happen in rural areas but an attack on an elderly lady with a hammer? That's not something anyone should shrug off.

Dartford Warbler said...

I have just caught up with your news from yesterday. A truly horrible attack. I do hope the elderly lady will make a good recovery, both physically and emotionally.
It does sound like something induced by either drugs or mental illness. Never an excuse, but there is a need to understand and to try and rationalise these things.
A sad event that must have knocked the confidence of so many in your friendly rural town.

Gwil W said...

First thought.

Old people don't walk more slowly because they have more time.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks everyone.