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How good it feels to be alive among such lovely folk

So it's Mental Health Awareness week. I've always been ambivalent about this sort of thing because though it's good to raise awareness it should be raised forever, not just for one week or one day. Like Covid 19, mental health issues will never go away, they are for life and not just for Christmas as it were.

I always viewed Covid as an opportunity, not least to volunteer in helping the NHS in helping us through the crisis. And it was the act of volunteering that I quickly realised was good for my mental health. So I decided to do even more and became a Nantwich Buddie. I wrote about the effect of volunteering on my mental health a lot in my blog on where I often described humorous events that provided cheer amid the gloom of pandemic.

So I thought I'd share a series of these events here...

I have always been a fan of malapropisms and was once lucky enough to write for the legendary Jean Alexander, who as Hilda Ogden was one of the greatest malapropists of all time. Or I thought she was until I met "Frank", one of my clients.

Frank is seventy-nine, living alone. He has no family, so my weekly visit to do his shopping was something of an event for him, an opportunity for conversation on the doorstep. We got to know each other quite well and were happy to have a shared passion for wildlife and wildlife programmes on TV. On one occasion as he gave me a scrap of paper with his shopping list thereon (some items from Marks & Sparks but most from Aldi) he happened to mention a programme the previous night all about the deep sea world. I told him I had seen the programme too.

"Brilliant," he said, "and did you see that giant octopus?"

"I did," I said.

"Massive," he said, "thirty-foot testicles."

I hadn't the heart to correct him. I just took his list and his twenty-pound note and went to do his shop, chuckling to myself down every aisle of Aldi and thinking to myself how good it feels to be alive among such lovely folk.

Mark Bickerton

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