There is a 93-year-old lady I know who lives alone in an old farmhouse. She still digs her potatoes in on Good Friday, remains active in the local church and local charities, and first started collecting for the British Legion in 1936 – she remembers that the local retired colonel put only sixpence (2.5p) in the tin, which she thought rather mean. She only told me this because the Olive Cooke tragedy was front of mind.
Occasionally, she suffers from a sort of twisted gut that is excruciatingly painful. In July, her pain flared up and, not wanting to pass out alone, she rang the hospital 20 miles away to say she had a problem and ask whether she could have a non-emergency number in case she needed help – ringing 999 would, she felt, be unnecessarily dramatic.
Half an hour later there was a bang on the front door. Sitting at the bottom of the stairs, doubled up in pain, the lady just about managed to pull herself up to open the door. When she did she saw two people dressed in what appeared to be the uniform of a very well-known medical organisation.
"How kind of you to come round so quickly," gasped the rather shocked lady.
"Are you all right?" the two visitors asked. "Can you donate?"
"Not really," she replied, still doubled up. "Well," they said, "if you can't give anything at the moment we have a tin at the local shop so just pop it in there."
And with that, they were gone. Thankfully, she has now recovered.
Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, email@example.com