Time and again we read reports of the decomposing body of some poor soul being discovered in the house where they have lived for ever and a day.
Shock, horror. “How could this happen in this modern day and age?” goes the cry.
Why the surprised reaction? Rather than express shock that such events could ever occur we should be treating them as the norm; they are becoming an almost daily occurrence.
And I see why. As a solitary soul, happy in his own company, there are many periods when I have scant contact on a personal basis with other human beings – certainly not within my own domain. There are no neighbours knocking on the door for whatever reason; there are no friends dropping in for a chat, coffee or a glass of vino. The postman needing a signature on a package can be my sole contact with the outside world.
My realm is that state of mind and body known as “splendid isolation.” Which suits me fine.
But what if, as one of advancing years whose many contemporaries are now resting six feet under, I was to suffer one of those “attacks” that can occur so suddenly? I have been close to, and sharply aware of, numerous such events in recent times. And they are becoming ever more frequent.
What, I wonder, if I was to succumb to such an event? It would require immediate, urgent, knowledgeable action … or else.
Yet it could be hours, days even, before anyone was aware that I was not up and about as usual. The newsagent might notice I hadn’t been in for my daily paper – but would think I’d gone away for a while rather than permanently. Who else? Contact with friends and relatives these days is predominantly by email and Facebook. A day without a post or a message would not be unusual – there can be weeks between such communications.
In common with the majority of the populace, I have many Facebook “friends” but true friends are few.
We have long lost the personal touch. Never off the phone, ceaselessly sending texts, iPads and iPhones our constant companions, so busy, so many contacts … and yet it is all at arm’s length. We are hired, fired, congratulated, commiserated, engaged, divorced, befriended, unfriended, cheered and chided, slandered, praised and variously ordered and informed by remote electronic means.
Not a touch, a smile, a wink, a caress, a grimace, laugh or semblance of humanity intervenes. Never have we been so much in touch with those around us, and around the world.
And yet we never speak to our neighbours, or even to our so-called friends. Or knock on their door.
So be not surprised that if you do happen to knock, there is no answer. Your call came too late.