This article is taken from Stand 240, 21(4) December 2023 - February 2024.

Cliff McNish The Figurines
I feel the upward creak of springs as my wife Tabitha eases her seventy-eight year-old body out of bed. It takes us both awhile. Slippers and groans. ‘Ooof.’ I swing my beefy knees off the mattress. ‘Nn.’ She grounds her soles. ‘Hamstrings engaged,’ she murmurs. She heard it on a yoga Ted Talk last month, and now announces it every morning.

Easing onto her back, she performs her spinal release exercises. I manage a few arm waggles, attempting to jack my heart rate up beyond its standard sluggish thud. I’m so immobile these days that a health team recently had to convert our lounge into a bedroom and fit extra plumbing in the downstairs toilet so I could shower without needing to go upstairs. Humiliating. Though not quite so humiliating as my recent visit to the GP to check my prostate. ‘Just a little feel around in here,’ said the young female locum, deploying the sing-song voice you’d typically use to coax a child.

Honestly, is it absolutely necessary to strip the elderly of every single scrap of dignity?

‘Cup of tea?’ Tabitha asks.


She helps me across the hall and I sink into my chair at the kitchen table. I can already feel my joints complaining. My knees are going to be unkind to me today.

Tabitha places our usual pot of Earl Grey in front of me, and I reach across the table to butter the toast.

‘How about we order a taxi, get out this morning?’ ...
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