BEST WE COULD DO (©Words & Music by Paul F. Cowlan)
A contemporary folk tale. Okay, so the average old peoples home is certainly an improvement on the workhouse; but singalongs, bingo and witless television dont necessarily become irresitible just because youre old enough to qualify for a taxable pension .
Call the police and fire-brigade!
Theres someone on a ledge,
and Im afraid it wont be long before hes gone.
Just look at that! I think that youll agree
the man must be a fool.
Hell break his neck before hes done.
The fire-brigade and police arrive,
glad to find the man is still alive.
An ambulance parks by the wall.
A policeman with a megaphone
glances up and switches on.
“Dont worry. We wont let you fall.”
The social workers here at last.
Hes leaning from the window,
thinking fast and talking in a friendly tone.
“Youre not in danger any more.
So climb back in, unlock the door.
And maybe I could use your telephone.”
“A chap of your age shouldnt play the giddy goat.
And anyway its freezing,
you could catch your death of cold.
Lets you and me just have a chat,
a cup of tea, and after that
I bet youll feel as good as gold.”
The man says, “Wheres the tragedy?
When youve lived as long as me
you might see things in a different way.
Would you rather make the choice your own,
or be banged up in some old folks home,
losing your teeth and marbles day by day?”
“No, no!” the social worker cries,
“Thats not the way to talk.
You just dont realize what life could hold in store.
With outings, quizzes, singalongs,
bingo, T.V. marathons, talk-shows, pantomimes
and so much more.”
“Precisely!” says the man.
“Now dont take this to heart,
because, for my part, I feel happy, free and proud.
Its quite a simple step to take,
and its time I gave myself a break.
Please explain this to the crowd.”
With that he leans into the air,
performs a swallow-dive,
and theres a gasp from all the watchers on the ground.
Because, though each one sees him fall,
Suddenly theres no trace at all,
and hes nowhere to be found!
“So what happened?” asks a woman from the Press.
“A hopeless case!” the social worker says.
“I just could not get through.
But whatever stunt hes pulled, I tried.
And it cant be denied,
we all did the best that we could do.
The best we could do.”