I sacrificed my visit to the golf club today for a visit from somebody who rang me last week but from whom I had failed to make a note. In the event there was no visitor and no telephone call. Maybe I’m going a little dippy and imagined the whole thing! In any event, the five-day forecast showed black clouds and rain, a maximum temperature of 8° and a chilly wind. As I sit here and look through my study window the sun shines on what appears to be a glorious day so, once again, I should not trust the weatherman but make up my own mind on the morning I would normally go to the golf club.
Then tomorrow we have a day of free from visitors. On Thursday, Doreen ‘the secretary’ comes.Then on Friday four of the Arbitration Club committee are coming down to give me lunch at the Cricketers. As Alice says they probably think I am on my last legs and had better come down and see me whilst the going is good. Although I am weakening all the time I suspect this will not be the last time they come down for lunch.
I had a lovely long e-mail letter from Johannesburg, from two old friends from the past who were working with us 50 years ago in Arabia. They will shortly be celebrating their golden wedding anniversary, beating us by 10 months. They were a lovely young couple whose company we enjoyed and it is so good to catch up with old friends.
I was glad to receive an e-mail from the good Doctor Michael in Australia who only made a passing reference to Tom at the end of the e-mail. This was good news as his treatment appears to be going the right way. As Michael says ‘overall a good report.’. The rest of the e-mail was rather like a report from my personal physician. He first all dealt with the cyst which was more squeezing than cutting but as I’m due to go to the hospital in a few days time I think I will have to leave it to the surgeon there. Michael then went on to deal with weight loss and pain control. It’s good to have these little separate reports to show my team as Michael is with me 24 hours a day and observes things that the doctors and support team could not in the short periods of consultation. Of course, we have to very politely offer these notes on the basis they might be helpful and that in no way are we attempting to circumvent that consultant’s own experience.
I am well into Claire Tomalin’s book on the Charles Dickens – A Life. which is easy reading and a fascinating insight into this restless workaholic, He was always coming up with grandiose ideas for theatricals, personal readings, clubs for the unfortunates, starting new newspapers or magazines and so on, this on top of producing a chapter a month of whichever book or books he was writing at the time. He seemed to have a prestigious amount of energy and had an amazing following and typically, for example, sold one hundred thousand copies of the Christmas Carol, I seem to recall, in the first month. (Most of his books were written by monthly instalments). He was a ‘tour de force’ and immensely popular, both here and in the US although he seemed plagued, throughout his life, by a shortage of money which led him constantly to question whether or not even get a better deal by switching to another publisher.
Relationships with the Americans went sour over the lack of international copyright and, although they lauded him wherever he went, the American press was not at all sympathetic about his copyright complaint and accused him of ‘ingratitude and greed’ . As part of the bi-centenary of his birth, the Museum of London have an exhibition, Dickens and London, which I would love to go to.
I can think of no more appropriate way of finishing this entry than this imposing picture of the Niagara Falls, in 1911, the year they froze to a standstill. Dickens visited these falls twice and, on one of his American trips, spent 10 days there, and said of them, “It would be harder for man to stand nearer to God then he does here” Click here.