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London at 79!

Published on 07 December 2023 01:34 PM

In September this year Age UK London launched our report titled Older Londoners: the highs and lows of living in capital. In the report we highlighted that the majority of older Londoners (59%) love life in the capital, and struggle to imagine living elsewhere. This prompted Lisa Robinson who has returned to London after many years away to write to us and we invited her to write a blog. Here is her fascinating view on the highs and lows in her own words. 

London at 79!

Having moved out of London in 1977, I finally returned here 3 years ago with my husband,  in my late 70s. Partly for greater general accessibility, cultural diversity and stimulation in our later years and also for the ability to travel to visit our family by train, rather than car, as they all live in different parts of UK – but also, to return to my roots.

I find life in London colourful and culturally stimulating but also increasingly stressful, due to the huge changes in metropolis life now: masses of traffic and people and all the evidence of inequality, poverty, and homelessness. I find the huge changes in the NHS and the difficulties in accessing medical help which it brings, hard.

The state now, of our NHS, is upsetting - particularly just as I need to use it more, at my age. So, I now live with real concerns about the future and worry about this and the demise of our public services and lack of social care. Having worked in this field all my life, I feel especially concerned about it all.

I like the diversity of London and all the cultural and educational opportunities that it offers, but I find the digital and social media world nowadays increasingly alien and alienating! In fact, I cannot relate to it anymore! Refusing to own a smartphone myself, (because I don’t wish to become obsessed by it as it seems everyone else is), I have a cell mobile which is all I need, but this now unfairly complicates my access to the NHS and other resources in society - which is inconvenient and unfair!

I enjoy noticing my surroundings and the simple things in life - so it saddens (and annoys) me, to see everyone so glued to their mobiles!

It seems that the days go by rapidly nowadays and that I’ve not really done very much…It never used to feel like this! Maybe this is something to do with age, or I need to find some more meaningful activity to commit to.

I do need to see the countryside sometimes, so exploring outside London every so often by train, is necessary and refreshing. And in between times, regular walks on wonderful Hampstead Heath and along the length and breadth of London’s canals and rivers is always enhancing.

I struggle quite a lot with nostalgia when walking around the north London areas so familiar to my childhood and teenage years – so this is always bitter-sweet for me, but I wouldn’t be without it, so I still lovingly wander round my haunts from all those years ago.

Whilst I appreciate peace and tranquillity, I also enjoy exploring the variety of new experiences that London offers in these difficult times. I particularly love travelling on the tops of buses to visit new places - with my Freedom Pass and hopefully avoiding school times!

I do worry about the changes in our High Streets and very much hope that the smaller, independent shops will not disappear, which seems increasingly likely. I am fed up with the plethora of nail bars, pizza places and betting shops! It seems to me that values in life these days are too often superficial - and somehow, this feels more obvious in London than it does in the countryside – but this is a bit of a myth?!

Of course, I recognise many good things alongside the inequality and poverty I see, but this world (hence my world) does feel pretty alien to me these days. So, I devote much of my time to enjoyable diverting activities, such as fringe theatre, local concerts, educational talks and various other events and activities. The more unusual, the better! I now go to U3A group classes on Art Appreciation, Medicine Today and Politics and Current Affairs, which are so interesting. And I have started singing again at last, in a community choir.

London Public Transport is so great that we have given up our car. We miss being nearer to our family at this stage in life - and seem to especially enjoy the enriching company of small children, so we find ourselves chatting to other peoples’ children at every opportunity!

The realisation nowadays of the passing of so much time, and the sense of loss inherent in this, does make me sad, but seeking out new and interesting experiences helps to reduce this. I hope to do some meaningful voluntary work soon - and London offers a rich variety of opportunities for this.

These are some of my thoughts and feelings about now living back in London, at the age of seventy-nine.

Lisa Robinson aged 79



Our thanks to Lisa for providing her open and honest  insight into life in London