The elderly are becoming a generation delinquents – and it’s our fault

We have bred a group of feral old people who are taking to crime or blowing their fuel allowances in nightclubs in Tenerife
We have bred a group of feral old people who are taking to crime or blowing their fuel allowances in nightclubs in Tenerife - Halfpoint Images

What is happening to our elderly? Recently, four British pensioners deliberately went missing in Italy after hiring a holiday home belonging to a friend of mine. They decided they didn’t like it and left without telling the owner, who is owed £5,000 in damages. The police are still trying to track them down.

Meanwhile, a geriatric did an eat-and-hobble from my local bistro last week. The 83-year-old miscreant told the waiter, who followed him onto the street, that he had forgotten his glasses and had been unable to see the bill.

According to a source at the Met, geriatric crime is on the rise, including shoplifting. People complain about the declining standards in the young, but what of the declining standards in the behaviour of the old? The rheumy-eyed are increasingly uncontrollable and offensive.

Not so long ago, a nonagenarian swore at me on a train for rustling my newspapers. A standard lecture ensued. The rules of the lecture are as follows: people your age never had to live through a war. Therefore you are self-indulgent and without consideration.

It is assumed that it is somehow our fault we were not alive during the Blitz, a sort of retrospective act of cowardice. But having lived through the war, or remembering it, these people feel that it is their right to behave like delinquents.

The other day I was in the supermarket where a lady pensioner was blocking the way to the cash till. When I excused myself and walked past her she whacked me with her walking stick. This led me to further musing. Why should Sunak’s plan for the reintroduction of National Service be restricted to the young? Couldn’t the elderly be improved by it? They might even learn some social skills. (If they refused, we could confiscate their bus passes, heart medication, etc.)

But perhaps the old are not to blame, but rather our treatment of them. Of all the institutions that have come down to us, nothing is so derailed as the family. Many elderly, rejected by the children they once nurtured and shoved into care homes, hit out from bitterness and despair.

A geriatric neighbour who lived alone in a one-room flat was the rudest woman I ever knew. One day, however, she said to me: “I suppose you think I’m a horrible old bag.” She then explained that she had a son whom she adored. After her son married, she gave him her large house nearby as a gift. The next thing she knew she was out on her fanny. Since then he had never bothered to visit or telephone.

It may be our fault, then, that we have bred a group of feral old people who are taking to crime or blowing their fuel allowances in nightclubs in Tenerife. There is nothing more uncivilised than living alone and nothing more discouraging than being forced to be solitary. We should think on that the next time we feel tempted to kick aside a pensioner on the rush hour Tube.