By Ian Hamilton
Medicine has created human slugs. Silent in granny and grampa hutches the elderly lie. Drugs prescribed by unscrupulous doctors keep them breathing. It’s breath that pays. Quality of life isn’t a consideration. The owners of the hutches are paid for the live ones just as the doctors are paid for the living on their list. Death cancels all. Life is preserved by underpaid care workers too busy to give the love they undoubtedly have. There’s money in it but not for them. The doctors and home owners take all.
Where the system breaks down is when someone escapes from a ‘care home’ as the hutches are euphemistically called. I am an escapee. In my mid eighties I do all the things men do in their sixties. My biological functions may have waned a little but my social functions remain. They don’t need listing. They are there from flying aeroplanes and riding motorcycles to solving abstruse literary problems. This is thanks mainly to the pharmaceutical companies although the medical profession may have helped, when they weren’t certifying slugs as still alive for financial purposes. Modern surgery helps too.
This has created a new problem. We have an able and experienced generation of sixties to nineties with no function in society. Unthinking doctors keep too many alive. There is nothing for us to do. In the heyday of life we were all dead by seventy. Now we are still young at ninety. Last night I spoke to a professional man. He put it thus. I spent thirty years learning my trade; I spent thirty years practising it. I was forced to retire at sixty and now I’m told I’ll spend thirty years waiting for death. Ninety is a reasonable life expectancy provided you escape the drugs from the doctors in the grampa hutches, in which case you live to a hundred and ten.
In the piece written below called A Safe Pair of Lips I made a joke of the problem but it is no joke. I wasn’t interested in the trivial job I applied for. I want more. I want responsibility. I have carried it all my life and now I’m condemned to years of idleness without it. I have tried for several responsible jobs and failed. Sometimes it is just plain prejudice that has stopped me. More often it is the fear of the interviewer that I am a better man than he is and would soon have his job. This is a perfectly reasonable fear. Let the best man win. More often insurance is the barrier. So recently have octogenarians been in the responsible labour market that actuaries haven’t sufficient figures to compile tables of risk. This is a band of insurance that lies wide open. I expect to live to see it filled. I hope an exception is made for doctors. May they never be reemployed.
Doctors should stick to their old job of killing people. Modern doctors have transgressed without thought into demography. Since they started to care for us on a forty hour week the population has soared. Every society needs its full time killers. They claim they have the right to time off like any other worker. This is the biggest confidence trick since Britain claimed to be a democracy. Doctors have no right to time off. We paid for their extremely expensive education. We kept them in hospitals and clinics while nurses taught them how to take a pulse. Having qualified at our expense one should always be available in every practice night and day to cure or to cull us.
I have argued in a full circle. If we have a doctor every time we feel ill the problem of old age will solve itself provided we deny them access to their pills.
Roll on twenty-four hour medical treatment. Roll on death.