The End of an Era, Being Kept Safe and ‘Walk Tall’

I had fully intended to return to my regular web-diary style of blogging last Saturday, as there is much to write about, but events overtook me. I think we had all expected it for some time, but when the news was released on Friday that Prince Philip, our Queen’s consort of over 73 years, had died peacefully that morning, our mainstream radio and television channels pulled all their planned schedules and replaced them with sombre music and programmes about the life of the Prince. I was surprised at the level of coverage given to his passing, dare I say it because of his age, but it seems it had all been planned out for some time, so went ahead. In consequence, it no longer seemed appropriate for me to write a jokey blog post combined with upbeat music.

The Queen with her Prince – Because of their height difference there are so many pictures just like this.

It kind of feels like the end of an era for those of us of a certain age. For as long as I can remember the Prince was always there by the Queen’s side and their work ethic over the last 70 plus years has been phenomenal. He had the good looks of a Hollywood star as a younger man and my mum always had a bit of a crush on him I think. Although his naval career was cut short after his father-in-law the king died prematurely, he carved out a role for himself that included work on conservation (long before it became obvious it was going to be important) and the setting up of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which has helped millions of young people around the world find a confidence to do things that wouldn’t normally have been open to them. He made the odd gaffe, as we all know, but who wouldn’t when having to make small talk and break the ice at hundreds of engagements per year.

It was his time. He reached the age of almost a 100 without having to endure too many of the usual indignities of old age, and that would have suited him just fine. His wife is a pragmatic and stoic woman who will not crumble. They are the last of their kind I suspect.

Ironically I had planned to write a post about old age last Saturday, as I am finally able to enter my mum’s care home after an absence of over a year. It is a very different experience however, as even with the staff and residents all having had their full quota of vaccinations, a half-hour visit now takes around three hours. There is a lot of form filling to be done then I have to have a covid test and wait in the car for the result. Once given the all-clear there is much hand-washing/sanitising and temperature checking before being dressed in the required PPE. A convoluted walk to her room using fire escape doors and staircases then follows after which I am shown the seat I must not move from for the duration of the visit. My mum gets another chair several metres away but of course doesn’t understand why it’s not like it used to be – But she is being kept safe, as she has been, very successfully, for the last year and a bit.

We chose her particular care home as it had so many fine features, like a hair salon, a little cinema, two coffee shops and a steady stream of visiting musicians who came to entertain. This last year she has had to predominantly stay in her room and the doors to the salon, cinema and coffee shops have remained firmly closed – But she has been kept safe. The average length of stay in a care home is two and a half years as by it’s very nature it is for those who can no longer look after themselves. In the 13 months since the pandemic began many of the residents have passed away from natural causes. They spent the last few months of their lives alone in their rooms with no visits from family and friends – But they were kept safe from the virus.

I am being a tad sarcastic I know, but it does gall me a little that in some parts of the country you could buy a small house with the money it has taken to keep my mum captive in her room for the last year (the dementia tax is alive and well). It really wasn’t supposed to be like this but I don’t suppose the care homes had much of a choice after those initial outbreaks at the start of the pandemic. I do question however whether those that are being kept safe are going to live long enough to see the end of restrictions to visits and have their fine facilities open again for business. My mum no longer recognises her granddaughter in pictures, as she hasn’t seen her for over a year. They are being kept safe, but time is not on their side.

Another couple of the same generation, my mum and dad.

My mum was never what you would have called a music buff, but like many other ladies of her generation she did enjoy some of the artists who appeared on mainstream Saturday night television shows back in the day. I have over the years shared some of her favourites around here, Jim Reeves and Andy Williams come to mind. Another chap she was definitely fond of was Val Doonican who regularly appeared on our screens dressed in some very fine knitwear. His big hit Walk Tall from 1964 comes to mind as it also makes me think of Prince Philip, who although not actually that tall, always gave us that impression because of how he carried himself, right to the end. In the US the song was recorded by, and was also a hit for, Faron Young.

Walk Tall by Faron Young:


I think I needed to write this one as it has been upsetting over the last year being kept at arms length from the care home where my mum lives. It does also make you ponder on what might be to come. The Who sang about not wanting to grow old but two of them are most definitely heading that way and looking good on it I must say. We don’t know what lies ahead which is probably a good thing. For ladies like my mum the care home route worked well, until the pandemic came along. Now, not so much.

Until next time…

Walk Tall Lyrics
(Song by Don Wayne)

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

All through the years that I grew up, ma taught these things to me
But I was young and foolish then and much too blind to see
I ignored the things she said as if I’d never heard
Now I see and understand the wisdom of her words

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

I started goin’ places where the youngsters shouldn’t go
I got to know the kind of girls it’s better not to know
I fell in with a bad crowd and laughed and drank with them
Through the laughter mama’s words would echo now and then

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

I got in trouble with the law and I’m in prison now
Through these prison bars I see things so much different now
I’ve got one year left to serve and when my time is done
I’ll walk tall and straight and make ma proud to call me son

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye