Esther Rantzen: Elderly can use self-isolation to write life story

Monday, March 16, 2020

Dame Esther Rantzen has urged elderly people who are in isolation due to the coronavirus outbreak to pick up a pen and paper and “take Shakespeare’s example”.

It comes after the Health Department announced that, in the coming weeks, people aged over 70 will be asked to self-isolate for up to four months to protect themselves from Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said over the weekend that it was a “very big ask” but maintained it was “for their own self-protection”.

Dame Esther, whose charity The Silver Line offers “information, friendship and advice” to older people in the UK, had some ideas for passing the time.

“Four months when you've been living seventy years is quite a short time really, it'll pass like a flash,” she told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer.

The former That’s Life! presenter said self-isolation could be an opportunity to write the life story “which you have always wanted to write down but never quite got round to it.”

“Think of Shakespeare for a moment now, at the time fo the plague it affected him, it closed down theatres and unfortunately he went to visit a friend who had got it so he wasn’t allowed out of the house so he was isolated, he was on lockdown.

“What did he do? He wrote King Lea, MacBeth and Antony and Cleopatra.

“I think this has happened to generations in the past, what I would say, write your life story.

“Start from the year of your birth and write all the things you’ve learnt, all the fun you’ve had, all the jokes you’ve had, all the love stories that you’ve never quite dared tell anybody but you're prepared to confide to a piece of paper.”

The Silver Line is a 24-hour telephone helpline which can be contacted on 0800 4 70 80 90.

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