Friday 27 January 2012


Leave me alone.

Go away and get on with your own life.

I want to die... please let me.

Why do we - time and time again - assume that the elderly and the sick are incapable of making informed decisions about their fate? Why do we want to emphasize and attempt to bear their pain? Why, in fact, do we assume, more than they, what their suffering actually is?

As one who cannot entertain the company of others for very long at all, the very worst way I could end up would be in a home. I'd be better off dying alone, through starvation or disease, or whatever. The clearly demented denizens of the streets suffer their own partuicular hells yet they struggle on. And sometimes they die. And nobody really cares, but then again nobody really knows whether a different end would be better for them.

I have sometimes thought about how it would be to live on the streets and in some ways it may be a more natural way of "making a living" than going to work, struggling to pay bills, worrying about every last little thing then dying at an agonisingly extended old age, having long before lost the will to live or the means to end it all.

You're going to like me less - if that's possible - for saying this but maybe we need a bit LESS compassion in society to allow us to overcome the blindness caused by the Disneyfication of life itself - did Tennyson not write about nature red in tooth and claw? Why have we allowed ourselvs to over-sentimentalise everything?

After all, life is pretty ordinary for most people. Without anybody even asking, you're born, you struggle through, you get old or sick and then you die. All of you. Every last one. That's it. Whatever you achieve you take with you and except for a few great names who live on in history (thought never get to experience the reverence in which their memory is held) everybody who has ever existed has been forgotten.

So why the sentimentality? Why the hand-wringing and the moaning and the wailing? With an ageing population maybe now is the time to get less preoccupied with prolonging unsatisfying life and let folks name their own time? If your olds want to go, is it anything other than your own weaknesses you feed by pretending compassion?

Ruth? Don't talk to me about Ruth.

(PS: Don't panic. I'm not depressed. I wrote this ages ago and just decided to hit the 'publish' button to clear my 'backblog' of drafts!)

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