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Monday, March 7, 2016

A Little Anthem for an Anthem

On Saturday afternoon I went with my shanty choir to a residential home for the elderly in Slochteren, to sing for the inhabitants. The home, 'Olderloug', was well known terrain - we had sung there before, for an audience of (very) old people, some care staff, quite some volunteers, and maybe some inhabitants from the neighborhood.

The days are long gone that in the Netherlands you could enter a residential home for the elderly at retirement age and live there for a couple of decades. Nowadays, one has to be really fragile in order to enter a residential home. If you are only a bit fragile, or rather fragile but not enough to convince the authorities that you need care in a residential home, the powers that be claim that 'family', 'friends', and 'the community' ought to take care of older people, rather than 'the government' (forgetting that 'the government' is nothing else than 'the community' but then institutionalized through tax-paying mechanisms).

I am not going to enter into discussions about today's claims that our society should be 'inclusive' and directed towards 'participation', although, to speak with Dylan, "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" - just looking around you is enough to separate the high-strung idealistic and political correct language from the sometimes grey reality unfolding. I am just noticing here that one of the consequences of all this newspeak is that more and more residential homes have to close down because of a lack of inhabitants (basically: because of a lack of money, or rather: because of a lack of willingness to keep investing - the system simply becomes too expensive to be sustained by this poor country I live in).

And so the concert we were giving in Olderloug would be the last concert ever there, because next week Olderloug would be closed down and the remaining inhabitants would be moved to various homes elsewhere in the province - to be, after a while, probably moved to yet another home somewhere else in the province because more homes will be closed down. Et cetera.