Drinking can become a way of life. But it’s nobody else’s business if it does, says Raymond Bond.
I was very young when I started drinking. I’m sixty-three now, so that’s a long time.
My childhood was okay. I grew up in Greenwich with my parents and seven siblings. Then my mum and dad died when I was still young, and social services suggested we go into care. But my older sister and her husband decided to look after the younger ones.
I didn’t do any exams. I just left school at about sixteen and found a job in a factory – packing and assembling – which I did for just over ten years. I met a guy at work, and we started drinking together. We used to go to the pub on Fridays after work. Then we took turns visiting each other’s houses at the weekends.
After that, we moved in together, and drinking became a lifestyle. We drank every day, working during the day and drinking in the evenings. I never felt it was a problem. We drank anything and everything, beers, spirits, wines – you name it.
After ten years at the factory, I told the boss where to go and left, as I’d had enough. After that, I drank day and night as I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. The drinking just got worse. I was signing on, so I had money to buy alcohol. I did that for a long time.
Then as we got older, my friend had a hip operation which didn’t go so well. He came out of hospital, and a few months later I went upstairs to take him a cup of tea one morning and couldn’t wake him. So, I had to call the ambulance and the police. He’d died in his sleep.
After he died it was pretty lonely, and a social worker got involved as I wasn’t looking after myself properly. I was in my late thirties to early forties then. I’d never learned to cook or do anything and was just drinking. When he died, I didn’t have anyone to drink or do anything with, and life became a bit difficult. So, I went into a home and there, I could drink moderately. Then I went from there to another home before I was sent to Aspinden Care Home (ACH).
Since I’ve been at ACH, they’ve put me on a programme to cut my drinking down. So, I cut way down. It was difficult at first, but I’ve gotten used to it. I stick to my allowance most of the time, but sometimes if I have money, I go down to the shop and get a can.
My life is okay. I haven’t thought of what a good life would be. I just take life as it comes. Most of the time, I just stay in, but I sometimes go to the park with the staff or join in the activities they have.
I like living at ACH. I see the doctor regularly, and the nurse. The staff here are quite helpful. If I have any troubles, I go to them, and they help me. They help with letters, forms, benefits, my banking, and everything. I get all my meals cooked, but I don’t always eat as I am fine with one or two meals per day. But food is here when I need it.
Sometimes there are trips to the seaside or amusement parks, and I go to those. There are also things to take part in during the week like board games, which I join in with, or sometimes celebrations for different things. As for my family, one of my brothers came here once when I moved in, but I don’t know where my other siblings are. We sort of all went our separate ways, so they haven’t been in touch.
I’m ok with my life, and I want to stay here for the rest of my life. I have no other plans for the future. I have my drink when I’m allowed, and otherwise, everything is ok. Sometimes the staff talk to me about whether I want to cut down on my drinking even more, but right now, I want to continue as I am. It’s my life, and what I do with it is my business.
Aspinden Care Home (ACH) is a CQC registered Care Home based in Bermondsey, South East London: socialinterestgroup.org.uk/our-services/aspinden-care-home/