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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Acceptance, gloom, anti-gloom

The mini-adventure didn't happen - medical matters intervened. Never mind; old age teaches us to be philosophical.

Less easy to be philosophical about Alzheimer-stricken brother Nick (the best dressed one in the centre). At his "home" I  presented him with a pot plant - a strange, unbrotherly thing to do. I emphasised how his yacht Takista had invigorated my latter years. Mentioned sailing north at night with the Cote d'Aquitaine to starboard. As I spoke I saw flashes of recognition, then shared his suffering as he tried  to dredge up responses from a mind shot to hell by disease. As if we were alone on an alien and uncongenial planet.

Sir Hugh and I drove away looking for lunch in the Yorkshire Dales. Came upon the village of Leyburn, where the centre was devoted to a heaving mass of shiny car roofs. Two hundred beetle carapaces? Drove on, depressed.

Back at Sir Hugh's house I drank gin, wine and Scotch knowing there'd be a price to pay. Somehow Proust cropped up in talk; Sir Hugh has read A La Recherche (he has the necessary doggedness) and told me he enjoyed it. This cheered me.

Spent the following afternoon with Ron and Frances at their house in the tiny Lakes village of Mungrisdale. Ron and I started out on the same Bradford newspapers at the same time. He went on to write about Everest attempts, yachting, rock climbing, sub-aqua stuff and choral singing, travelling the world betimes. Frances has an honours degree in music from the Open University. Time after time I was conversationally outgunned. Parked outside was Ron's 600 cc metallic red Honda but happily there was no spare crash helmet. Instead I played the first line of God Save The Queen on Frances's harpsichord.

Driving home today I managed to transfer from the M6 motorway to the M5 motoway without being mired in a traffic jam. Almost a miracle. 


  1. I like road trips - taking them and reading about them. Enjoyed this report very much.

    A pleasure to see the Three Caballeros all agrin. Nick looks smashing, as do you and Conrad.

  2. I see you cite “brain” as one of your labels - I feel as though mine has been turbo-charged for the last three days.

    Unfortunately photos are not necessarily representative, and the sadness of seeing brother Nick so reduced is not evident. Your conversational skills certainly brightened his day and I’m glad you were able to be there.

    Your shaving brush, found in my dining room, is on its way back to you.

  3. What a charming bouquet of brothers.

  4. U.S. readers note: "pot plant" may not mean medicinal cannabis. I'm glad you had the chance to spend some time with Nick. Alone together is not alone.

  5. The picture is complete now - three brothers. As one of four sisters, I recognise the bond and the sadness. Well done though, with the M6/5, always a temptation to call into IKEA for meatballs on the way through ...

  6. I began to write in the comment box 5 times, erased the words 5 times, and now I'm attempting it again. But the words just won't come ... I'm hearing strains of harpsichord.

  7. The Crow: You wouldn't imagine Nick hadn't found his belt and that his trousers were sustained mainly by prayer.

    Sir Hugh: There were half a dozen useful points. Notably shining light on that moment in all of our lives when we embark on some statement or other and the choice of words plus their order have still to be made. On the verge of talking but without a plan of what's to be said.

    Nick seemed to brighten up when he got himself dressed and left his room for lunch. I hope they encourage him to do that rather than eat alone.

    Shaving brush arrived within twenty=four hours.

    Ellena: Three wilting nasturtiums.

    MikeM: A plant in a pot then - athough the ambiguity is pleasing.

    Blonde Two: Being apart seems to strengthen the bond.

    RW (zS): A harpsichord's "touch" differs from that of the piano. The line was fumbled.