Although the story is witty and infused with a strong layer of sarcasm, it also made me quite sad to think that in the end our lives are reduced to such banality. One is treated with a lack of dignity and compassion, which quite frankly is simply appalling.
The identity behind the pseudonym Hendrik Groen has been a bit of a mystery for the last few years. I can imagine quite a few old age pensioners being eyed suspiciously by inhabitants and management teams in care homes. The Volkskrant seems to be think it is a particular gentleman nearly a few decades shy of being an octogenarian.
The truth is it doesn’t really matter because Hendrik Groen is nearly all of us when it comes to being an elderly person in western society. In quite a few European countries the birthrate is now so low that in a few decades there will be more elderly citizens than younger ones. There couldn’t be a better reason to re-evaluate the way the older generations are taken care of.
In that sense I believe Groen’s diary is making some very valid points, albeit ones mixed with a good portion of irony, humour and current events.
There is a special emphasis on euthanasia and having the choice to die. Dying with Dignity has become a hot topic in the UK, with many people campaigning to allow the terminally ill, the incurable and those who don’t wish to live in constant pain, to be able to choose to die. Giving them a voice and a choice before they become too ill to be able to make a decision.
With the story being set in Amsterdam (original language Dutch) it is laden with references to Dutch traditions, holidays, food and places, which I personally enjoyed because I used to live in the German/Dutch border region.
I hope, if I am ever unfortunate enough to end up in care home that treats me like a number and a potential profit margin, I will have the good fortune of making a band of friends like Hendrik’s gang of rebels.
I wonder what he will write about in his second diary?