I see a very special man at least every two weeks. We hug and kiss when we meet, tuck ourselves away in a secluded corner in a local restaurant and gossip. I feel sad when lunch is over and I wave him goodbye. What’s so unusual about this then? Well, Tom is about half a century older than me.
I signed up to Contact the Elderly six months ago. The idea is simple. Once a month a group of young people meet with a group of older people for a tea party. This bridging of generations is an attempt to reduce loneliness in older people. I was asked to pick up Tom as he lives just round the corner from me and we hit it off straight away. The first time I met him, he was hungover and tired but he had a wicked glint in his eye and soon had me in shocked stitches with his filthy jokes and indiscreet anecdotes of his years working at the BBC.
At the first tea party I went to with him, what struck me most was that the younger people seemed to be the ones benefiting as much as the older people, if not more so. Many of them had remained in the city after studying here and missed contact with their grandparents, or any older people. Likewise, the older people often lived far from their grandchildren and blossomed in the company of younger people. What we all discovered at the end of that first tea party was that the distinction between the ‘young’ people and the ‘older’ people was quickly blurred. We just happened to be a bunch of people who met up once a month.
We swapped recipes, knitting tips, lurid gossip, dirty jokes and put the world to rights. I got on so well with Tom that we now meet up outside of the group. I look forward to his company. He’s done it all before, seen it all. He puts life into perspective for me, which is badly needed right now.
Anyway, our Christmas party with all the groups in our area is in early December and I can’t wait. Why not have a look at the website? If you can spare two hours a month, I guarantee it’s one of the best things you can ever get involved with.