At 66 I am a lucky lad. All my chores are taken care of by a team
of gentlemen who call every day. My bed is made and the bottle
changed, sandwiches and coffee are provided, the whole flat is
cleaned from top to bottom and all my shopping done without my
having to move out of my chair. All for free.
A state with a social conscience such as this is well worth living
in. I don’t pay rent and I don’t pay council tax. The council has
just installed a brand new bathroom and kitchen and the drawing
room is gorgeous. I am living in greater splendour than I did
during my working days so I am a firm believer in the maxim “all’s
well that ends well.”
As a nine to five commuter for many years, I took on jobs that were
not really me. But they were the only jobs I felt I could do. A
Winchester and Oxford background does not honestly train you to be
anything but a gentleman. Specific training on top of that is what
is required. I was sold on show business: I did have a number of
sporadic successes in show business as an actor and now as a
magician. But a career? Don’t rub it in.
Words fascinate me and in particular my word for community care –
supercalifragilistic. Fifteen years of mental torture ended in
sunny skies, scampering like an ant to work again. But little did I
think I would end up like this.
Luxury makes me feel guilty. Do I deserve this? Schizophrenia may
be a terrible illness but it is also the key to a helluva lot of
benefits. To accept the prize even if you don’t deserve it is the
only thing to do. Now I can explore myself and the world in that
order. Age doesn’t come into it. The universe is my oyster. And if
you stay in one place, you can collect a whole lot of
Fulfilment is the goal in life and care in the community engineers
that fulfilment. I feel heartfelt thanks to all the carers who have
prevented me from being lonely and helpless and for putting me very
much back in the land of the living. Whatever your age and
ailments, you can look forward to a similar fate.
The married man has his own welfare state in miniature. His
children will look after him until he drops dead. My children are
my magic tricks and articles. I hate to admit it, but I relish
solitude. I like taking all the credit and I like being the sole
beneficiary of everything. I can look forward to another 10 or 20
years of luxury living, provided I don’t break another hip or allow
my dreadful smoking habit to wreak its havoc.
I don’t have a little creature to keep me on the rails but I do
have my gentlemen carers to provide a gasping audience for my
amazing illusions. What more could I possibly ask for? As a
Christian, I look forward to a much better life and in the meantime
I thank you, the carers, for making this one more than
Richard Jameson is a mental health service user.