Maybe Roger Daltrey needs to change lyrics

Roger Daltrey of The Who

Roger Daltrey of The Who - Credit: PA

Now that Roger Daltrey of The Who is 76, I wonder whether he still agrees with the lyrics of Pete Townshend’s song My Generation when he sang 'I hope I die before I get old'.

When in your teens or 20s it is easy to see all old people in the same way. We even see this attitude in some of the comments about Covid.

Why are all the young people having to isolate to save the elderly, many of whom were going to die soon anyway?

The average death from Covid is 82 but according to actuary tables they should have another nine years.

And in those nine years they might see grandchildren growing up and off to university or getting married. They might see great grandchildren. They might even be able to travel. They can certainly be an important and loved part of the family.

I confess that I was no better in my youth. When I started my hospital jobs the one 'weakness' in the rotation was geriatrics, now euphemistically called 'care of the elderly'.

Surprisingly, this turned out to be one of my best hospital jobs.

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I remember one old lady sitting reading, just another old lady. I was then told that she was one of the first women to graduate from a male college of Oxford University. 

Not only was she very intelligent but she must have faced significant prejudice.

In my practice I was privileged to meet some amazing people who happened to be elderly.

One lady, whose father had been an early member of the Labour Party, had been a suffragette. She had even been to meetings with the Pankhursts. Now she had mixed feelings. She had been a socialist all her life and imagined that, if there was ever going to be a female Prime Minister, she would be on the left of politics, perhaps like Barbara Castle. 

But she lived to see Margaret Thatcher.

She was delighted and amazed to live to see a female Prime Minister but totally opposed her politics.

“I think she’s really a man”, she joked.

I was called by an excellent residential home worried about an elderly man.

“He wants to spend all day in his room and won’t join in with any of the activities. Do you think he needs antidepressants?”

I had known him for many years. His wife had died, and he had a stroke.

He was mentally very well but could not physically look after himself. I visited him and we had a long discussion.

He had been a classical musician was highly intellectual. He had no desire to join in the bingo or sit with the others for a singsong. He had never played bingo in his life and had no desire to start now. 

I suggested a CD player and he gave me a list of his favourite music. The nearest he got to 'pop music' was Ivor Novello.

His new CD player proved far more effective than any antidepressant.

Even when people are suffering from dementia there is still something there.

The family of one confused lady in her 90s told the staff at her care home that she used to play the piano in the hotels around Torquay before the war.

For some inexplicable reason when she was in her 50s a doctor told her not to play the piano as it was 'bad for her heart'.

I’ve no idea why my colleague was worried but her heart was still strong in her 90s.

They sat her at a piano and she played some wonderful 1930s music from memory. The home gave me a cassette of her playing.  

A lady in her 80s once said to me: “The trouble is I’m the same person inside was when I was 17.”

Maybe Roger Daltrey should change the song to “I hope I don’t die early from Covid”. Let’s hope that old age has cured his stutter