At the end of the day, what was it all for?

Edward Case
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My late parents were always very sensible with money. Even though his salary was average at best throughout his entire working life, dad was pensioned up to the hilt to the point that he was able to accept a decent redundancy package and retire early at 59.

It was a very different story when they first got married.

I arrived nine months and six days after their wedding and money was short. Mum would go to the other side of Wolverhampton with me in a pushchair and do someone’s hair just to buy some baby food.

But they both worked hard and eventually, after 10 years, bought their own home for the princely sum of £2,300.

They spent their entire lives creating our family, working and providing. They knew they would never be wealthy and didn’t care because all that honest work and diligence paid off to the point where they knew they were comfortable and financially secure.

Then something happened that none of us are really prepared for, no matter how level headed we think we are. Age.

My parents had made a pact in their 20s that whichever one of them became infirm first, the other would look after them no matter what.

It never occurred to them that they would both go rapidly downhill at the same time.

My mother was the one who made the decision from a hospital bed that they both needed to go into a nursing home – something I was dead set against as she had always joked that if I ever put them in a home she would come back to haunt me.

But bedridden after a phantom heart attack and having a leg amputated and with my dad, who had stuck rigidly to their agreement, showing increasing signs of dementia and recovering from bladder cancer, she finally called it and that’s when the reality and the cruelty of social care in this country really became apparent to me.

The last year and a half of their lives (they died within four months of each other) was spent sleeping at opposite ends of a corridor with an undulating floor in a total s***hole, robbed of every ounce of independence and dignity while everything they had accumulated over 60 years of marriage was drained at a rate of £1,500 a week.

By the time their bank accounts had been drained there was still over £21,000 outstanding to come out of the sale of their house.

If they had lived any longer they would have been penniless and homeless in no time. That would have finished them off instead of the double pneumonia that coincidentally got both of them.

That could be me in about 15 years and to the naysayers to last week’s decision by the prime minister to impose an additional tax so that a cap can be put on just how much of someone’s fortune can be taken away, one day it will almost certainly be you.

This week I’ve heard it called a tax on the young to pay for the elderly who are better off than they are anyway.

Try that argument in 40 or 50 years time, because mark my words, the day will come when all the things you now take for granted, like walking, clear thought and dry undies will be replaced by wheelchairs, confusion and the smell of pee (if your lucky) or a catheter if you’re not.

Stupid TV quiz answer of the week:

A bumper week starting with Tipping Point

Q: The children’s book Mr Magnolia is by the illustrator Quentin who?

A: Tarantino

Q: Which Dutch city is known as the international centre for peace and justice?

A: (First idiot) Belgium?

(Second idiot) Geneva.

But the best comes from a headteacher (!!) on The Chase:

Q: Lithium carbonate is made up of lithium, carbon and what?

A: Eight.


Edward Case