Older People's Fun Day

Written by Jo Carroll.

Older People's Fun Day:  Jo Carroll joins MNO’s squad of columnists

On September 30 Wiltshire Council sent out a press release about an ‘Older People’s Fun Day’ – to be held on October 4.  So we’ve missed it.  But there were so many aspects of this press release to challenge that I’m not sorry to have missed it.

Older people (defined as anyone over 55 – I’ll grumble about that another day) were invited to ‘pop along’ to County Hall and join in the fun.

Forget, for a minute, the patronising language - for we were expected to arrive at around 10.15.  For those with cars that’s not a problem.  But I have no car – and I suspect many of their target customers have put their driving days behind them.

So let’s think about how they might ‘pop along’ to Trowbridge from Marlborough.

You could catch the 70 bus to Swindon at 8.10, then connect with the 9.05 from Swindon to Trowbridge and arrive at 10.35, thus missing the opening shenanigans.  If you want to be there for the beginning you need to leave Marlborough at 7.00. Or you could catch the Connect 4 bus to Devizes, then the connection to Trowbridge, but you won’t arrive before 11.30.

There’s always the train – from Swindon via Bath Spa, or Pewsey via Westbury.  I don’t believe you want me to tell you the times…I just know that arriving by 10.15 means leaving home well before the cocks crow.

If all that feels like hard work, you could always catch the National Express Coach the night before, stay in a hotel in Trowbridge, and then you won’t miss a second.

But how to get home?  There’s the tortuous Swindon route.  If you take the Devizes option you’ll have just an hour at the Fun Day and then you’ll be heading back in time to catch the one bus a day from Devizes.

Of course, if you are having a wonderful time you could always stay a second night and catch the National Express at 7.30 the next morning.

None of which looks like ‘popping along’ to me.

Which brings us back to the patronising language.  Small children are asked to ‘pop along. ’ Working people are invited to join a discussion, to input ideas, to contribute to the debate.  Where is the dignity that comes with acknowledging that older people do not lose their ability to understand adult language simply because we have a bus pass?

We, rightly, challenge language that could be seen as racist, sexist, or make people with disabilities feel uncomfortable.  But with older people – now we are no longer working – there is an assumption that we can be lumped in the not-earning box alongside children.

I suspect the bigwigs at County Hall don’t spend much time talking with older people.  They might discover that we can be as opinionated, active, and interesting as everyone else.  And, if there were the buses to help us, some of us might have made it to Trowbridge to tell them so.

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