FOR my 50th Birthday, my wife gave me a wonderful present – a visit to Liverpool and a Beatles tour.
As a Beatles Fan throughout my life, it was a fantastic treat.
What was particularly exciting about the tour was that many of the places and the characters spoken of in the Beatles songs actually exist.
Yes, there is a Penny Lane and a Strawberry Fields. There is an Eleanor Rigby in the graveyard of St Peter’s Church in Liverpool, where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met at the Woolton Village garden fete in the afternoon of July 6, 1957.
And the Father McKenzie of the song is Father Tommy McKenzie, the compere at Northwich Memorial Hall.
What may be quite different today is that the lonely people, spoken of in the song, are no longer just senior citizens.
In fact, loneliness is no longer an old person’s disease. Loneliness is a disease which can affect us all.
In 2014, the Office for National Statistics found Britain to be the loneliness capital of Europe.
Strangely enough, we are less likely to have strong friendships or know our neighbours than residents anywhere else in the EU, and a relatively high proportion of us have no one to rely on in a crisis.
But, shocking as this is, such studies overlook the loneliness epidemic among younger adults.
In 2010 the Mental Health Foundation found loneliness to be a greater concern among young people than the elderly.
The 18 to 34-year-olds surveyed were more likely to feel lonely often, to worry about feeling alone, and to feel depressed because of loneliness than the over-55s.
Evidence from a number of charities such as Campaign to End Loneliness, Age UK, Action for Children, the Co-op and the British Red Cross, indicate more than nine million people in the UK – that’s almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often feel lonely.
Even more shockingly, almost two-thirds of the UK feel uncomfortable admitting it.
Ironically, prior to her death, at the hand of a right-wing terrorist, Labour MP Jo Cox began a campaign to help tackle loneliness in our society.
Her plan was to encourage people to start conversations with their neighbours, phone a friend, meet up with, and take time for people.
Fifty-one years later, the words of Eleanor Rigby echo as much today as they did in 1966:
‘All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
‘All the lonely people where do they all belong?”