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Beloved Old Age and What to Do About it: Margery Allingham's the Relay Paperback – 30 Jun 2016

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Golden Duck (UK) Ltd (30 Jun. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1899262296
  • ISBN-13: 978-1899262298
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 2.4 x 13.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 493,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Julia Jones found /The Relay/ by Margery Allingham in a box. Publishing it had been difficult before, but suddenly with the onset of her own mother's dementia, Julia found a way to link the book with her own experiences. This isn't a detailed account of how to cope with Alzheimers. or what to do with a mother who forgets things. It is not intended as a guide book. It is just a couple of parallel stories containing two women's (three if you count Margery's sister, Joyce) experiences of dealing with the problem of elderly loved ones who can't seem to see the world the right way up any more. Some of Margery's advice - proffered in the late 1950s-1960s is of course somewhat out of date. Thank the Lord we have moved on from the inhumane treatment of the elderly in serried wards of beds. But it is brought up to date by Julia Jones in her clever dovetailing of her account with Margery's. It is gentle and sometimes helpful, life-affirming, and a pleasure to read especially if you are in that position with elderly loved ones.
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Other reviewers have outlined the background to this publication and stressed the close professional interest Ms Jones has had in Margery Allingham. This first publication of Allingham’s The Relay with elucidations and additional commentary by Ms Jones brings the two together into a far more personal relationship as both experience and write about the demands, frustrations and, yes, occasional pleasures of caring for older people with dementia.
Ms Jones conveys the crises of old age with the striking image of ‘a shipwreck in slow motion’ and few of us need to be reminded of how challenging it must be to witness such a process at first hand. Indeed, Allingham warned that ‘the problem of old people was one which must be approached with more than haphazard goodwill’.

The subject is distressing and, even though there are plenty of tender, touching moments and even injections of humour by both writers, in essence this is an acceptance of some painful and inescapable truths, an analysis of the interactions between those suffering from the condition and their carers, and an attempt to propose approaches which see the whole process in a broader context. More than that, the perspectives of the two writers, separated by some fifty years, chart society’s changing attitudes to old age (as well as some which persist), and illustrate very starkly how much further we need to go not only in the provision of care but also in our understanding of the dynamics of the relationships involved.

Although she does refer to the specifics of her own situation as part of a caring solution, there is a deliberate detachment in Allingham’s account. She seeks to discard stereotypes and proposes structured relationships and solutions based on two-way processes.
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Format: Paperback
This is a really unusual book which defies genre boundaries. Julia Jones is the biographer of Golden Age crime queen Margery Allingham and entrusted with access to her documents. Among them was Allingham's very last book, unpublished. 'The Relay' is about ageing, and how to deal with it within the family. Julia Jones has prepared this book for publication and added an enriching layer to it, in interweaving her own account of living with her mother's dementia and the changes it dictates to their family's lives. By 'relay', Margery means allowing the experience, wisdom, stories and any other accumulated life material to be absorbed into the family before the old depart.
Uniquely in my experience, she writes of looking after one's own family oldies as a privilege, a vital part of the family, not just a duty or a burden, though she acknowledges the enormous stresses involved. So Margery and her sister set up a home for their mother, and two aunts, in a cottage over the road. Margery calls this a 'dower house' system which nowadays makes it all sound very posh and upper class, but she was referring to an old tradition whereby the older generation live out their days in a nearby house, with support from family. What we'd now perhaps call a 'granny annex' which is patronising rather than posh, not much of an improvement vocab-wise. With great honesty, she describes how to set up such a system - it's vital to have someone professional looking after them, a housekeeper/home help, to take some of the personal stress from family. I was much struck with the points she made, back then when almost everyone had servants who wasn't one, that this person's salary should be the largest part of the expenditure by far, and they should have adequate time off covered by family members.
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