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Catherine Shoard wrote an article in G2 of the Guardian last week, notionally drawing attention to a forthcoming film based on Alan Bennett’s play ‘Allelujah’ ‘We fetishised being young – it’s just stupid!’: Judi Dench and Richard Eyre on ageing, Covid and saving the NHS | Film | The Guardian

She does this by quoting remarks made to her, or within her hearing, by famous older actors who form the cast of the film. They explore matters relevant to older people in this country and beyond, relating to health care, social care, the impact of Covid-19 and lockdowns, and attitudes toward ageing and older people.

Ms Shoard begins her article with a sensitive appreciation of a part-closed mental hospital in North London – St Ann’s Hospital, Tottenham St Ann's Hospital - Wikipedia

A report from 2016 speaks well of the plans and process by which local people have been consulted about the future use of this site, taking into account local needs for affordable housing, continued support for people with mental health problems, and the benefits of reserving space for wildlife: Finally some good news: a housing plan that meets local needs | Dawn Foster | The Guardian

That is all fine, but Catherine Shoard reflects real affection for the past of these buildings, how they were built and the service which they and similar units, with devoted staff, have given through times when prosperity was less and knowledge and therapy was more limited. There was a reliable robustness, sometimes misunderstood and misrepresented – but it was there and it was publicly financed. Compare now with the fragmented, torn net across health and social care – reluctant to recognise and respect the strengths and needs of our current population – within which many are old before they look for help.

All this is captured in the words of people we know, through their fame, as friends via the television and other screens. They have carried their might easily, without offensive pride or distance – and they speak now from a weakened frame, accepted with grace, and new insight.

A review of Alan Bennett’s play concluded: ‘this is a sharp, funny, subversively political play’ Allelujah! review – Alan Bennett's hospital drama is full of quiet anger | Theatre | The Guardian

Bennett’s lived experience of care and death with mental illness is shared in ’Untold Stories’ 2006.

Let us see if the wider distribution which this story deserves, will hit home via the cinemas.

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