TWO months into the current situation, according to “lockdown rules” there should be a complete absence of elderly people on the streets. They should be “staying home”, shielded away from the rest of society with no human contact whatsoever, to eliminate all risk of contracting the coronavirus. A couple of weeks ago reports circulated that imprisoning yourself within your own four walls should be extended to the over 60s, who are also in the “high risk” category.
This would be for a minimum of four months, and perhaps “to be safe”, a lot longer.
Being in that bracket myself, I considered this advice carefully during the time it took me to pump up the back wheel of my bike, before jumping on it and heading out for a two-hour ride.
How many folk over 70, or even over 60, are currently incarcerated within their homes is unclear.
But round about where I stay some, in fact quite a lot, are not in the strangled grip of the coronavirus terror.
The anguished debate in much of the media about the alternatives available to them – go outdoors and “risk their lives” or stay indoors and “endure a living death” seems to have entirely passed them by.
An elderly man who lives near me goes out virtually every morning. He must be well into his 80s. He breezes off at a decent pace and at times when I see him return he’s usually carrying a Co-op shopping bag. It’s all downhill and then uphill again from Scorguie if you’re visiting the nearest large store, so for his age he’s pretty fit.
Clearly, in life’s current acute priority list, he regards going to the Co-op as more important than avoiding catching covid.
Is that foolish, foolhardly, stupid or reckless? Having lived to a grand old age it’s his choice and he’s made it. It seems he’d rather take whatever risk comes his way than spend valuable time in a homebound jail cell, for months on end.
There’s another man I also see out on a daily basis, again, in his 80s. He wears a hat and moves along at a slow pace, with the assistance of a stick. When I first saw him pass my window I thought he was just having to take it very easy because he was struggling a bit with his pins.
Then one day he appeared in a kilt. And I saw he’d only one leg.
Having had a leg removed is at the more extreme end of the kind of experiences some old folk will have gone through during their long and challenging lives, with all its varied ups and downs. But the elderly who are out and about – and I see plenty of them – have clearly decided that they are not going to be cooped up indefinitely because of this coronavirus thing.
They want to live and breathe rather than be indefinitely shut away in stifling lockdown because of the coronavirus terror.
Nicola Sturgeon will tomorrow announce her first plans to ease the lockdown.
But a significant number of elderly people probably won’t be paying too much attention. They’ve decided to ease the rules for themselves. There may be a risk but they’ve obviously decided it’s just something else to be faced along life’s long and bumpy road.
Right choice I’d say – and the best of British luck to them.