Fandom: Harry Potter
Prompt: Number 53. 'No more tears now; I will think about revenge.' --Mary Queen of Scots. (Not used but sparked several trains of thought which may appear in subsequent fics.)
Summary: Mrs. Ogden is ninety-three. Her social worker is confused. Thanks to snorkackcatcher for the beta and a useful suggestion regarding the summary!
I’m ninety-three years old. People say I look young for my age.
I have always felt young. I put that down to reading, and a vivid imagination. The world has its cares and worries, certainly, but I’ve always found it easy to curl up and escape into a good book. My biggest fear used to be that there were so many good books out there that I’d never have time to read them all. But my sight’s not what it was, and I’m coming to terms with that now.
My health’s not really what it was, either. These tower blocks don’t help. I do try to get out every day, into the sunlight, and walk around a bit, but it’s not so easy to climb back up eight flights of stairs when you’re ninety-three. The lifts keep getting vandalised, you see, and there’s no money to fix them. It’s nobody’s fault. There’s not enough round here for the young people to do. But it makes life difficult for us older ones and I have to admit that sometimes, when it’s nippy out or the wind’s getting up, I’m in two minds about my daily walk.
I am lucky though. I know I am lucky. I have good friends and neighbours, who ask after my health and help me up the stairs with my shopping. You’d be astonished how heavy a few tins are, when you’ve carried them all the way up eight flights of stairs! That young girl downstairs – Dora – is a real treasure. I think she must be a student or something, with that blue hair. We didn’t have blue hair in my day, but it looks very fetching on her, I must say.
There’s a lot of things we didn’t have in my day. I know they say people were happier then, but I don’t think that’s true. We didn’t have the television, or central heating. People died of cold, or disease, or because they couldn’t afford to eat properly. Two of my sisters died before they were six. I’m the only one left now, of course.
We had dances. That’s how I met Jacob. He asked me to the Licensed Glassworkers’ Dance and I went with him because he had a car and Ernie Withers didn’t. We used to laugh about that. Jacob said that car was the best investment he ever made, because it brought him me. He’s been gone twenty years now, of course. He was never the same after the war.
And there’s David, out in Iraq. They censor his letters, you know. I never thought I’d live to see letters censored in England again. Isn’t that what we fought for last time round? The politicians think we pensioners are stupid. They think all we care about is free bus passes and our cold weather allowance. That’s about the only thing that makes me angry – being patronised by arrogant young men in expensive suits. We’ve got opinions too, but they don’t want to hear them.
But I’m rambling. One of the privileges of age. I was telling you about my radio.
I’ve always had a radio, ever since Jacob brought the first one home just after the war. A great big thing it was, with a sound that filled the room. It was as if the presenters were standing right next to you. Oh, we got used to it quickly enough, but I don’t think the magic ever wears off completely. And ever since then, I’ve always had a radio. I like to know what’s going on in the world. I don’t know where I’d be without it.
David bought me this radio for Christmas in 1999. It’s been very reliable. That was why I was so horrified when the cat knocked it off the table.
Dora couldn’t have been more helpful. Such a nice girl. I was trying not to show how upset I was, but she put my carrier bags down straight away and made us a pot of tea. Then she picked up the bits of my radio – it’s not as easy for me to get down on my hands and knees as it used to be – and promised to get her dad to look at it for me. She said he knew all about Muggle things. I suppose that means he’s some kind of electrician.
She brought it back the very next day and it’s worked beautifully ever since. The sound is crystal clear and there’s never any problem tuning it. Electricians are so clever these days, don’t you think? I’ve had it for nearly a year now. It’s very reliable.
Would you like another cup of tea? I’m not sure I understand you, dear.
Oh yes, I heard you quite clearly the first time. There’s nothing wrong with my hearing. I just didn’t understand you. Perhaps you need to talk to Dora. She'll be able to explain.
No, dear, I don't think it's ever had a mains cable. It runs on batteries, you know. So clever, and I've never had to replace them. That's a good thing, really, because I don't have any idea where they would go. Jacob was the mechanical one, bless him, and Dora has been such a kind soul. She's a wonder at fixing things, that girl. My kettle's never been the same. Did you know she wanted to get me a television? I said no, of course. I didn't want her to think I was relying on charity. Between you and me, it's not much better than the radio with my eyes, anyway. But so kind of her to offer.
No dear. You tune it like this. If I want to listen to Radio 4, I press this button. Do you see? And if I decide to change to Radio 3, I press the button again. That's right, dear, the same button. Dora said not to bother with that fiddly little dial. Just think of the station you want, she said, and the radio does the rest. These modern appliances are so convenient.
That's the wonder of radio, isn't it? The magic never quite wears off.