Books

Top 5 books about ageing, chosen by Pope Lonergan

The stand-up comedian and writer selects five books about the older generation

Woman in wheelchair with carer

Image: Dominik Lange on Unsplash

Pope Lonergan, author of I’ll Die After Bingo: The Unlikely Story of My Decade as a Care Home Assistant, chooses his top five books about getting older.

1 The Wrestling by Simon Garfield

I’m a wrestling zealot. When I was a kid I was lucky enough to go to a WWE (née WWF) show in London. Next to the entranceway there was a 77-year-old wrestler called Mae Young and my lifelong BF Louie and I patted her arm as she passed through. Afterwards we noticed some skin cells on our hands and, as a spontaneous gesture of devotion, we licked them off. Like we loved wrestling so much we wanted to consume a tiny bit of a wrestler. Proper nutbag kids. 

2 Harvest Moon: Portrait of a Nursing Home by Sallie Tisdale 

One of the few day-to-day accounts of care home living. It’s like I’ll Die After Bingo but without lines such as “I was wearing a haemorrhoid as a cufflink”. It was written in the ’80s but most of the problems remain. Dispiriting. 

3 House Mother Normal by BS Johnson

A postmodern story mimicking the warp and degradation of a mind slipping into dementia. I love Johnson and vow to create my own version of Fat Man on a Beach. (Listen up, BBC!)

I’ll Die After Bingo: The Unlikely Story of My Decade as a Care Home Assistant is out now (Ebury books, £16.99)

4 & 5 Labours of Love: The Crisis of Care by Madeleine Bunting &
The Care Crisis by Emma Dowling 

A bit of a cheat but both cover the same subject and make great arguments in favour of spotlighting “the daily maintenance of human welfare” and the crisis engulfing the sector. All without calling anyone a “greedy fucking prick” (like in I’ll Die After Bingo). 

You can buy I’ll Die After Bingo from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.


Lonergan’s podcast, Pope Lonergan is Plimmin’ and Lompin’ is available here

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member.You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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