Years ago, my wife and I bought a bungalow to retire in. When she died, I would spend my days going from room to room looking for her, so eventually I moved and gave myself a new routine - just me and my bus pass. Now that’s all gone.
It usually takes me until Easter to recover from Christmas. I never see a soul. I won’t pretend it’s not difficult, not having someone there to celebrate with. I have no children and a sister who lives far away. We see each other less and less. My birthday’s in January too, so it’s just months of misery.
Last Christmas was the best one I’ve had in years. I was in hospital so that might sound a bit strange, but it was the first time in ages that I’d spent the day surrounded by people. Six male strangers in a ward together and all the hospital staff saying ‘Merry Christmas!’ to everyone. I’ll never forget it.
My bus pass is like my golden ticket. It’s the best thing they ever gave us. Before the lockdown, I used to be out from 9am-4pm, especially if the weather was good. I usually go into town to a nice cafe or, on a sunny day, there’s a park I like to go to and just watch the world go by. Sometimes there are people to chat to, sometimes there aren’t. But it’s nice to be out.
But now the buses have stopped running. They were my way out! The high street looks like 6am on a Sunday morning, it’s a very strange and worrying time. This week was the first time I’ve been out in weeks and it was scary.
I’ve been in and out of hospital since January and a few weeks ago I couldn’t get my medication. If it wasn’t for a kind soul, I don’t know what I’d have done. I do my best to not get lonely but it’s getting really hard.
There are only so many pairs of shoes to shine.
I still get up at the same time, look for odd jobs to do, tend to my garden, but there’s only so many pairs of shoes to shine. I always keep the radio on to hear another voice.
About 18 months ago, I got a call inviting me to Re-engage tea parties. It came out the blue and I was very excited. You don’t get many opportunities to sit down and have a chat with new people at my age.
Now I'm part of the group and we meet every month. The men are quite outnumbered but that’s great for me! The hosts and drivers really look after us and, over time, I’ve got to know people.
Now with this virus, we’ve had to postpone our meetings - for good reason, of course - but it’s still a real shame. All we can do is wait for things for start up again. I’m really looking forward to that.
At least for now the charity’s sorting me out with a call companion. I think a weekly phone call will help a lot.
Before all this, I’d say I was quiet but I just wanted a friend. Not a partner or anything, a friend. Someone to have a meal with, go to the pictures with. Now I don’t know what’s going to happen.
*Name has been changed