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Silence has a deafening sound

Readers' letters | Published:

Loneliness is the scourge of the old and infirm, strangers working away from home, and new incomers from foreign lands.

For the first time in many years, I found myself on my own, no background noises of her indoors, no offspring music crashing through the floorboards, silence, an eerie calm set in, something totally alien to Levy Towers.

She decided to join No 4 daughter in a trip to a garden centre, leaving me to man the ramparts. Being on my own in the family pile was a new concept in retired living, and even though it was only for a few hours, not having that subconscious knowledge that someone else is there, became quite unnerving.

It got me thinking, how do older widowed ladies, or men in their last years, cope, the housebound, friendless souls in a strange city, and the housebound infirm? For me, I knew it would only last half a day at most, and then the chatter and complaining would resume its normal course, but for the moment, I am rattling around the family pile, like Marley’s ghost.

The garden needs some attention, so I crack on, knowing at some stage in this hot weather my ever-loving will at some point come out with a glass of wet and cold. It never happened, I forgot, she has gone out.

My old Dutch is used to her own company, when the children were at school, and me at work, and I found it rather strange being on my own. At work you are with other wage slaves, and at home, with the family.

Strange to be in the garden knowing for the first time in a dog’s age, the house is empty.

I plod on, and eventually the old homestead reverberates to the sound of female voices, all eager to show me their purchases, most of which I will have to re-plant into china pots in the garden. I am lucky, I have a big family that visits often, grandchildren that stay over occasionally, and a wife who could moan and complain for England, but having experienced total silence, first it was a novelty, then strange and unnerving, I think I will plump for the occasional angry outburst, some old-fashioned East End GBH of the ear’ole, and the girls ganging up on me once in a while. It’s by far a more satisfactory prospect than a silent and somewhat creepy empty house.

I roll the garden hose up, put the hand tools away, and step into the house...

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“Take those boots off, you’re not bringing dirt into my kitchen!”

Music to my ears, situation normal, I am again, a happy bunny.

Tony Levy, West Midlands

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