I was – as former Premier John Major might have put it – not inconsiderably amused this week when reading media reports that the charity Independent Age and International Longevity Centre (UK) were warning that the number of men aged over-55 living alone, and therefore at risk of extreme loneliness, was going to rise by 65%, to 1.5 million by 2030.
Apparently not only are men living longer, but those with wives who predecease them tend to lose out on their connections with social networks. Furthermore, women – who are now all running multi-national businesses as well as £5 million homes, three kids, an au pair, a nanny, two dogs, a horse, two cars and all the other things that they used to do before deciding that men were completely superfluous, not to mention useless – are now all dying earlier than expected due to stress, excessive alcohol intake and high blood pressure.
Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, warned that allowing people to suffer from loneliness is the equivalent to making someone smoke 15 cigarettes a day and is as big a risk to longevity as obesity.
Take it from someone who has been there and done it – these latest survey reports are a pile of manure. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If I had a Bitcoin for every time a married man – happily married or not – has told me what he’d give for the chance to be me, even for just three or four months, I’d been a very wealthy man indeed, at least on paper or wherever it is the worth of a Bitcoin resides.
The overwhelming sense of relief that I feel every morning that I wake up with the day before me unfolding as nothing more than I wish it to be, rather being constantly at the beck and call of one’s other half and/or children … your waking hours filled with obligations in the high street, social calls and other obligations that you don’t really give a row of beans about etc. … is so life-enhancing that it would be almost wicked to share it with anyone else.
The one fly in the ointment – looking forward over the next decade or so – is the prospect of a load of goody-goody busy-bodies organising a workforce of meals upon wheels, old age carers, self-help groups, choral societies, brass-rubbers and flower-arrangers coming round my gaff in order to check that I’m all right and not feeling lonely or isolated.
All I can say in response is that, for me personally, I know it certainly won’t be as isolated as I’d jolly well like!
They’d be about as welcome as the incessant and overwhelmingly annoying junk telephone calls I currently receive (I’d estimate about 40% of the total) that are trying to sell me services or items I definitely didn’t want … or at least definitely didn’t know I didn’t want until they rang to tell me about them …