Steve is 68. He retired through ill health and hasn’t left his house for over a decade. He’s surrounded by pizza boxes, empty milk cartons and enough magazines to fill a caravan. Cigarette smoke lies in great wafts and the only thing he has for company is his three bar gas fire.
‘I haven’t the confidence to take the bins out,’ admits Steve, ‘and the last time I properly went out was to my mother’s funeral.’
NICE recommends that Steve should join his local amateur theatre group and help put on an rip roaring, ribald, uproarious production of Cabaret, or something.
‘I went to see what it was all about,’ says Steve, ‘and I wished I hadn’t. The group was called “The left-legged pineapple” because they all thought they were like totally zany. But it was full of awful shouty people who seemed to be completely unaware of how talentless they were. They wanted me to put lady’s knickers on for a production of Rocky Horror. I told them I can do that kind of thing at home. So I left.’
Steve is back wedged on the sofa between his empty pizza boxes and stack of magazines, cigarette in hand, and no amount of middle class guilt-ridden guidance from NICE is likely to change that.