New Beginnings, Glenn Miller and “A String Of Pearls”

This has been an eventful week but one that has gone better than I could have ever expected. Regular visitors to this place know I’ve spent most of this year trying to do the best I can for my mum, who lives with dementia. Tough in itself, but after a recent bad fall she was admitted to hospital, and although now recovered physically, it was deemed she wouldn’t be able to go back home without 24-hour support. I’ve had a fair few rants here over the last year, never about my mum, as she has done nothing wrong, but about the lack of resources out there to help families cope. (You are probably all bored of this story now, but I promise that after this post I will draw a line under the topic and get back to simply writing about my musical memories, which was what this blog was always supposed to be about.)

My mum as a young woman

Turns out that the care of our old folk is moving wholeheartedly to the private sector, and if you are lucky enough to have the funds to pay for it, you will be well looked after. If you don’t have the eye-watering amounts of cash required it’s a bit of a lottery, which really saddens me. Our NHS is “crumbling under the strain of an aging population” they say, but here’s the thing, the aging population shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about having defied the odds and lived a long life.

Anyway, the upshot is that a very swish new private care home opened this summer in our town, and was the only place with a readily available room for my mum. It’s like a 5 star hotel inside with a menu and decoration to match, but now that she’s moved in, I realise it’s the perfect place for her. After 8 weeks in hospital I think she’d forgotten all about her own little retirement flat as in hospital time has no meaning, and it probably felt more like 8 months. So, after a bit of basic packing of clothes and belongings, we made the momentous journey across town, and so far so good. She is being treated like a queen, the food is lovely and there are plenty of people to do things with. There is an inhouse hair salon (which is so important to ladies of a certain age) and “activities” every day. If you have dementia, non-dementia sufferers sometimes lose patience with your inability to carry out a cohesive conversation. In the care home, most of the residents have dementia, so no-one is going to get frustrated with you the same way they do in civvy street.

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The girls of the ATS (my mum is the tall one on the right)

Talking of civvy street, I’m going to carry on with the analogy, as I realise my mum was born to live a regimented life with set meal-times and a tight schedule of tasks and activities. I remember her talking about life in the ATS as a girl (must have been a junior version), and of the wonderful times they had at camp. No luxury back then of course, but all the camaraderie of being with people just like yourself. I’m starting to think the most difficult part of her life has been the years spent living on her own after the death of my dad. She moved to the Highlands to be near us, but of course you leave your friends behind, and life in a retirement flat can be a sad and lonely business. She was a great walker, and walked a fair distance into town and back every day, but I’m starting to think that was probably just to have something to do, to make more of the day go away.

Early days still, and I do have the worry at the back of my mind she might be “evicted” if her funds ever run out, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For someone who worked solidly up until retirement age from the time she left school however (bar a 3-year break to have me), and lived a simple life, it’s just what she deserves. She is a very sociable lady and unlike many more free-spirited old folk, was born to abide by “the rules” and take part in whatever is thrown her way, so I’m hopeful it will all work out. I still feel uneasy about the fact such care should be for all, but sadly that’s a massive issue which will continue to challenge our governments for some time to come.

As for the music clip, this weekend we commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day which signified the end of the First World War. I’m therefore going to choose something from the vast back catalogue of war-time favourites. My mum is off to a tea party this afternoon where they will no doubt be treated to such music. There is nothing good about war and so many young men on both sides lost their lives, but there is no doubt, when times are tough, the sound of a big band raised spirits and morale. During the Second World War, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra was a firm favourite with the troops (and is a firm favourite with myself), so it’s going to be something from him. Here is A String of Pearls from 1942.

No lyrics around here today, as for the first time ever, simply a piece of music and not a song. I found the string of pearls my mum received from my dad as a present when the were “courting” yesterday. Not sure if such things can be taken into the care home yet (I suspect not), so in the meantime I will take good care of them.

Back to music blogging again for me now. A big change for all of us around here and a new-found freedom for me. Thanks for listening to my woes over the months – It’s been cathartic.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

14 thoughts on “New Beginnings, Glenn Miller and “A String Of Pearls””

    1. Thanks – I’m crossing everything it will work out, but yes, will be able to get back to blogging and everything else that’s been neglected of late. Thanks for bearing with my rants over the course of the year.

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  1. Alyson, I am so relieved for you that things have turned out like this now and it all sounds very positive. I know what you mean about feeling uneasy that these options aren’t available to all, and I would hope some day they might be, but for now really the only thing that matters is where you’re at now with this after all the stress and worry of recent months. Hope your mum enjoys her tea party! What will it be like at ours if we ever find ourselves in the same position… no Glenn Miller… if it’s going to be the soundtrack of our youth we’ll eating our cupcakes to some Jam, Abba, Undertones, Chic, etc. Doesn’t seem so bad!

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    1. Thanks – It’s been quite a year hasn’t it but here we are. It is a very nice care home so I am hopeful it will work out for the best. No other option available to us, so it kind of has to.

      I must admit, it does make you think about what things will be like for our generation if we are lucky to live a long life like my mum. Will we be sitting there listening to the Clash or will it all be Stock Aitken Waterman? I have a terrible feeling it might be the latter. Having just spent most of this year unsuccessfully trying to get any help at all from the NHS/Local Council I am a tad worried – Best to have the conversation early on about what you want. We could set up a facility for aged, retired bloggers who just want to relive playing Saturday Snapshots and the like. Anyway, I must draw a line under this thread now as it has taken over my blog for the last year. New beginnings indeed.

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    1. It’s not what you would ever want for a parent but as a solution it’s a reasonable one. No other options left. Thanks for putting up with all my rants – will hopefully now get back to the musical memories!

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  2. I’m glad it’s ”so far so good” in regards to your mum’s new home and nice there are some activities for her.
    I have no experience of war besides what I’ve been told, but I can imagine music like String of Pearls could boost morale when times were tough. I’m reminded of the whistling song from the film Bridge on the River Kwai which most certainly had that effect on the soldiers.

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    1. Yes, there will be ups and downs no doubt and a settling in period but hopefully it will work out. It will be nice to return to being a daughter anyway and not just a carer.

      It is a long time ago now and not many still around who remember those days well, but music did play a big role in raising morale that’s for sure. As C above said though, in the care homes of the future they might have to play a bit of punk or disco to remind residents of life in the 1970s – Quite a thought.

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        1. Yes indeed – Sorry Chris, it looks as if I replied twice there but was just moving my original reply to the correct box. I hate if things look untidy around here – Bit OCD about such things!

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