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.