I was watching recently that rarest of beasts, an English-language programme on HK television. They are few and far between but occasionally worth 30 minutes of my time. I eschew the K-Pop programme. I am more into Köchel numbers than Korean soda music.
This particular programme was about care homes for the elderly. Watching it I suspect the true tags should be elderly, infirm, poor and without family. Quite depressing. I thought we were supposed to venerate old age. The programme mainly concerned the workers in the home, their low wages and the percentage of workers who were from the mainland rather than local to HK.
It was evident that although they undertook the work in a compassionate and dedicated way, most of them would rather have done virtually any other job. They did it, they said because they could not find any other work. One woman confessed to being illiterate and uneducated. The others probably fitted the same bill. One described the work as ‘dirty’. The homes were little more than dormitories as far as I could see, partitioned cubicles for the residents and bunk bed dorms for the immigrant workers. It was a sad picture. The amount of government subsidy for places in these homes seemed to be the bare minimum and so the homes themselves could afford little beyond the basics. They were I suppose profit-making enterprises. How much profit I don’t know and certainly reinvestment looked meagre.
As we approach the traditional season of consuming to excess it struck me as immoral that what are little more than poor houses still exist in a developed society, as HK claims to be. I admit I have my doubts.
I recalled one photo that I took a while ago. It is one I come back to often. Of course I have no idea what is going on in the mind of either party. Perhaps I misinterpret the glance. I always call it mind the (age) gap.
And then I remember a much happier old lady. In her 70s when this was taken, this scan is of a print that has faded with age – my maternal Grandmother, Priscilla Davies. I think of her at Christmas as we were sent for on Boxing Day 1970 and she died on the 28th December. I remember how distraught my mother was. Grandma Davies had a big family, was loved by all and died at home with her closest around her. A short illness. Bronchitis I think was the official cause of death.
I hope that wherever you are you are surrounded by those who are nearest and dearest to you. And if there are elderly folks out there who are alone, look out for them and maybe treat them to a mince-pie or two. But easy on the sherry. And spare a grateful thought too for the carers.
Happy Christmas everyone, whatever your beliefs or otherwise.