Coronanotes 21

Cd 34/Lockdown 31 


Wouldn’t it be an awful situation if we had to start bumping people off just so that our welfare and social systems could function. Imagine a world where governments have no option but to enforce population control in the most drastic ways. In some parts of the world they might start at one end – selective sterilisation and infanticide in poorer areas – and in others they’d hit the other end. In the west it would be decided to skim off the top end and lose the immense burden of the elderly. I mean, let’s be honest: we’ve never really thought that much of the oldies. We give them their special days and we patronise them with old songs and kids’ toys so that they can keep their minds active a little big longer. We put them in nappies but we call them something more dignified and we play them old songs that we think they’d like and we talk about the war because we think that’s all they know, though the reality is that the number of those who were actually old enough to remember the last war even happening, let alone have any real relation to it, is low. My generation has been brought up to assume that all old people are war heroes. 

Maybe they are in their own little, this is my battle, kind of way.  

They’re living too long, someone said. It was a human person that said this, so the use of ‘they’ is interesting – as though it’s a whole different species we’re talking about here; a whole other animal unfortunate enough to have been born into a state of decrepitude, but benevolent enough – even funny, sometimes. When they’re not puking like a baby or moaning about this or that hip.  

When they’re out of earshot we laugh at them. We take the piss because she got that name wrong or he thought the remote control was a chocolate bar. We go to see them and we pretend to care about the stories we’ve heard a hundred times; we pick up cheap flowers from the supermarket on the way and think they won’t notice. When they cry we know it’s because they’re senile and not at all because they can still feel. We can feel, alright. We feel righteous because we’ve given up a bit of our precious time to sit in a room full of old people who peer at us from behind cheap thick lenses and smell of piss. We sit in musty old chairs that have probably been pissed on. We pretend to listen to the stories but we’re really thinking about the cute little care-worker who just started her shift and is wiping spit from the sunken chin of a fat mman who hasn’t walked for a decade but wants to dance with the little nurse. 

These places we put them they’re bigger versions of the cages they have at animal testing plants turned inside out so that the windows face outwards and torture the inmates. But not for long. When they expire the whole thing is shovelled out, disinfected and a new bed of straw laid down. 

Imagine a society that legislates to do away with this; a society that forces upon people the dignity of an autumn given purpose by being given a date. A society that gives a gift that no other in human history ever has – a choice of departure. 

Imagine the funds that would be generated by the loss of such a heavy burden on the tax-paying public. It wouldn’t start being rolled out until the last war veteran had passed along, of course. It is a nightmare to try and bump off an old major who hobbles along hunched over his frame with medals swinging from his chest. Because then the whole idea would be a much easier sell to the rest of us – the species of human that we call younger who can’t ever possibly conceive of mutating into an old person.  

There would be safer, emptier roads and no one would manage the impossible task of driving the wrong way down a motorway. The entire population would manage to accept the concept of automated transport and not smoking. Doctor surgeries would be empty and supermarket queues would be swifter. We’d be able to get rid of coins and there’d be places to sit on the bus. 

Of course they’d crucify the minister given the job of first mooting the idea, and probably the next few that are forced to pick it up, but as they’re hanging out to dry the seed will be germinating and a new and very appealing reality will be taking root. 

The way that this virus is ripping through care homes at the moment, you’d think it was all part of the plan. 

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