Saturday, 25 October 2014

Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War - Vernon Coleman

Mrs Caldicot has been married for over 30 years to a dour, ignorant man who "worked in sewage".  She has learned to think but not speak, as she has nothing worth saying, apparently.  When he dies, she is not bereft, but finds herself not knowing quite what to do with herself.  She has a large, three bedroomed house and a garden, but no hobbies, no friends, and no interests.  That doesn't last long, for her son is determined to sort things out and arranges for her home to be sold, and for her to reside in a retirement home, which smells of cabbage, and where residents are drugged up to the eyeballs.  She is quick to stop swallowing her drugs, and persuades (or rather teaches) her two roommates to do the same.  She refuses to eat cabbage, and insists that her cat comes to live with her.  That's just the start of this heartwarming tale, where we learn that even the old should have a voice.  (In telling the tale, Vernon Cole has observed how badly the elderly can be treated when foisted off to care homes unnecessarily.  Somehow, the care home business in general still has some dreadful stories to tell 40+ years after this book was written, as we see in the news).  But if that sounds bleak, it isn't at all, Mrs Caldicot is suddenly able to rise above all that and Do Something About It!  

That was my view, but I found this review from 2006 on Amazon after I'd read it, and thought you'd enjoy reading it.....
" 5.0 out of 5 stars A great read - revolution for older folk, 16 May 2006

Mrs Caldicot has a bummer of a husband. He dies. Her relatives want to dump her in a nursing home so they can sell her house. And then it starts. Good old Mrs C suddenly gets a bit lively. She stands up for herself and won't put up with the boss of the nursing home. She starts a revolution. Its sad and funny all at the same time. And underneath it all there is the message. I loved it."