Friday, August 31, 2012


Yesterday, I wrote as accurately as I can about my mother. It was not entirely a charitable review; and it wasn’t mean to be. Dead or not (She is dead – I’m still working on it) we still have serious issues. Nonetheless, the following is what I said at her funeral service. She died in Spain, but the service was held in Ireland. It was in the late Nineties. She died, as I recall, at the age of 78 – the same as her mother, my much loved grandmother, Vida Lentaigne. Given her lifestyle, she did well.

Where do words come from? I am no practiced speaker, but my brief words came fully formed on that occasion; and they were well received. They matched the spirit of the occasion.

“As many of you know I had many differences with my mother, but she was also the main creative inspiration in my life. As a consequence of that creativity, I have been able to do the kind of things I only dreamed of when a child.

The key, I was taught, was to be what my friends in the US refer to as “an out of the box” thinker. Most of us are limited in what we can achieve because we are brought up to operate within boundaries – within the box of convention and perceived wisdom - but Mother knew no boundaries. She lived life to the full. In a word, she was extraordinary.

That viewpoint is shared by more than a few as this little story will demonstrate.

Recently, I have been having an e-mail correspondence with St. Peter. if you are interested.

After my inquiry about my mother his initial response was merely to say she had arrived at the Gates of Heaven.

“Did you let her in?” I asked. She had led a somewhat unorthodox life. Hitting the right destination was an open question.

There was no reply for some time, and I was greatly concerned.

I e-mailed again.

Still no reply.

I e-mailed a third time.

This time St. Peter responded immediately. First he apologized. He would have replied earlier but Windows 98 had crashed again – and he could tell me in advance where Bill Gates was going.

Then he said, “Of course we let your mother in to Heaven – and immediately. She was far from perfect, and I know she had a few adventures and gave you a hard time, Victor; but she was remarkable woman by any standards; and, by God, she is entertaining.

She was a remarkable woman; and, by God, she was entertaining.

She doesn’t really need a Memorial Service. She will never be forgotten.”

Thursday, August 30, 2012


My mother lived such a Bohemian life – twelve children, five fathers involved, three marriages, and countless lovers – that she  was socially shunned by the rest of the family in her day; or perhaps they didn’t quite know how to treat her. Quite frankly, no one did. She was charismatic, and could be utterly charming, but her mood swings were legendary; and, when she younger, she was prone to lash out physically and slap one across the face with considerable strength – normally without warning. I gather she did this less as she became older, but I was her first-born and she thought boys should be beaten. It was part of the culture of the time.

This made being around her a high risk proposition. For all that, she was a remarkable woman, in a dangerous way, and extremely attractive to the opposite sex. It wasn’t that she was extraordinarily beautiful: She wasn’t. It was more a matter of sexuality and sophistication. As handgun shooters would say, she understood “shot placement,” and could convey sexual interest at considerable range; and she was rarely resisted. A great deal had to do with her personality. She could draw people out, and – if in good form - she could be extremely entertaining. She was also different in a way that fascinated people. She was disconcertingly direct and would say the things that everyone was thinking; but few people had the courage to speak out loud. And she had a formidably strong personality. Few could, and did, stand up to her.

She was quite concerned as to whether I had “it” – by which she meant sex appeal; but finally expressed herself satisfied. I doubt I was more than fourteen at the time and wondered how she could tell. After all, she was my mother. I was also far from sure what to do with this insight. At the time, I was still at boarding school where the fair sex were scarcer that hen’s teeth. That made even the plainest school matron the object of lust; and there were not that many matrons. There were also supposed to be six Italian maids nursing one back to health in the sick bay, but since I never got sick that wasn’t much good to me. Also, I never quite believed the story; and seriously doubted, even if it was true, that they would be particularly obliging. Certainly, I assumed, one would have to be in the Sixth Form. I was also not quite sure sure exactly how I wanted to be be obliged. I knew the principles of course, but the finer points of detail still eluded me. I grew up in a house without TV in a simpler age. The Internet had not yet been invented. It was the late Fifties and I am reliably informed that the Irish – with the exception of my mother, who was Anglo-Irish - still had not discovered sex at that time. Irish babies were found under cabbages.

I am reminded of all this because half a century later, I seem to be discovering relatives I never knew existed (though none in the cabbage patch so far). So far, it is proving to be an extremely pleasant process. I feel like a detective unraveling a mystery; or, perhaps, a series of mysteries. Still, it is early days yet, and anything, or any person remotely connected with my mother, has to be associated with drama in some way or other.






Wednesday, August 29, 2012


There is a great danger, when researching a story, for the research to seem to be more important that the story itself. Research can be a heady experience. You can get access to places you would never normally be allowed to get near, you have interesting and exciting experiences, and – with a bit of luck – you get to meet some extraordinary people. Mind you, I probably should not have used the word “extraordinary.”

Most people, when you get right down to it, are no more than people. Seen up close, over a period of time, even people in high places are remarkably ordinary. Time is the great revealer. They get tired, they get nervous, they get testy, and few are brilliant conversationalists. Many, surprisingly enough, are not even particularly bright. Going along to get along is a faster ticket to promotion than raw talent. In short, they are no more than human.

Yet somehow, we humans have an aching need for leadership – for a magically empowered leader to spring forth and meet all our needs. We seek a champion to save the day. We seek someone to say things, and think things, and do things which we are just not prepared to. In short, our craving for leadership reflects – at least to some extent – an abdication of responsibility. We don’t like to dwell on such a concept, of course, but it remains true nonetheless.

Inevitably, that champion disappoints, and within a few years – or sometimes even sooner – we are looking for a replacement. And so this crazy cycle of disillusionment continues.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that leadership is not important – clearly, it is. What I am seeing that we need to become vastly more realistic about what a leader can and cannot be expected to do; and to appreciate that in most situations of any size, a leader needs a supporting structure to be effective. No one achieves success alone. There is always someone – frequently unknown – who aids the process.

The supreme irony is that the U.S. president tends to get blamed (or praised) for matters he (or she) does not control. The economy is a case in point. President Obama is currently being blamed for a poor economy in a situation where he inherited an economic disaster, has been obstructed by the Republicans from the very beginning, yet where the economic tide is visibly – albeit slowly - turning. In addition, corporations have never been more profitable, and the stock market is booming.

Has he done everything right? Certainly not. However, he has accomplished a great deal including winding up two wars which, if the Military Industrial Congressional Complex had its way, would drag on indefinitely. As for Healthcare, at least he has done something which is more than can be said for previous administrations. Further, I suspect that Obamacare constitutes only one step towards what has to be drastic reform. The current system is a disaster. Our Healthcare system costs up to twice as much as other developed countries and delivers inferior results. The populations of most other developed nations live longer than we do – Canadians about two years longer – and do not have to endure the misery of economic stress resulting from medical costs which many Americans experience.

What I fail to understand is the visceral hatred so many Republicans seen to have for Obama. Racism undoubtedly plays a role, but many of the other elements that make up this unhealthy stew of anger, loathing and bigotry are based upon little more than a tissue of lies compounded by ignorance; and a deliberate unwillingness to judge the issues based upon the facts. We are not talking about normal political differences here. Darker emotions are in play which do not bode well for this country.

The two major charges against Obama are that he failed to bring down unemployment sufficiently, and that he has put the country more heavily into debt. Both charges are superficially valid if you assume that Obama took over the presidency when the economy was normal, and that the Republicans were focused on job creation. Such was not the case in either situation.

Instead , it is a simple fact that Obama took over just as the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression had started, and the Republicans took the view that blocking Obama’s every action in order to make him a one term president was more important that working for the good of the American people. The phrase ‘despicable behavior’ comes to mind. The appalling ratings that the public give Congress would seem to suggest that others share such views – though why Congress as a whole should be blamed for what has predominantly been Republican intransigence escapes me.

I write this as someone who has never been an Obama fan. But, I do think it is helpful to look at the facts every now and then.






Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It is curious how the mind works. Mentioning Gregory Peck yesterday prompted me to try and recall how many movie stars I have met in my life.

I’m actually not much of a celebrity fan, but some of the movie stars I encountered back in the day were impressive people in their own right and bring back very special memories. For example, I met Gregory Peck in the South of France, and a nicer man would be hard to encounter. However, I’m not going to give a laundry list here. I’m merely struck by the oddities of the human mind, and how one thought leads to another; or doesn’t – as the case maybe.

In my case, I suffer from a form of dyslexia so the day I recall a full shopping-list will be a remarkable one; and I have no ability to remember either phone numbers or license tags at all. On the other hand, my ability to recall the past is considerable; and if I’m doing research, I can generally recall the sense of a discussion in considerable detail – particularly if I have a prompt. It can be a note, or even a memento. Best of all, is to have a recording. There, the sound of the other person’s voice brings it all flooding back without my necessarily listening to the full recording itself.

My memory seems to need stimulus. In contrast, I know some people who rattle off the fine details of history or literature at will. I am deeply envious.

Americans are widely considered to suffer from a sort of mass amnesia – certainly as far as politics is concerned. Given the polls and actual voting patterns, that would appear to be true. In contrast, rightly or wrongly, I think a great deal about the past, both because I think context is necessary for events to make sense, and because I regard it as raw material for a series of humorous (and I hope entertaining) books I hope to write. I plan to call them Confessions Of A Book-Writing Man. So far, I have planned five – all short - but the series may stretch to a couple more. It is hard to be precise because there may be an adventure or two left in me before I slump forward onto my keyboard. What an appropriate way for a writer to go. The alternative – dying while making love – has always seemed to me to be somewhat tactless.

On the other hand, though being dead might aid structuring the project – there is a precision to dates that always impresses - it looks like impeding the actual writing. This afterlife thing does not seem to be guaranteed. Probably best to begin them sooner rather than later. 

Which brings me back to movie stars. Do you remember Peter Van Eyck? He wasn’t a major star like Gregory Peck, but he was an excellent leading character actor who seemed to practically monopolize the role of the not-too-terrible German officer in war movie after war movie. The Desert Fox; The Longest Day; and The Bridge at Remagen are but three examples. He was also in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold with Richard Burton.

I mention Peter Van Eyck because we shared a girlfriend for a while and I still get a strange frisson when I see one of his movies. The lady in question – a truly delightful woman – is, I hope – still alive; and shall remain nameless.

Isn’t it strange how movies play games with one’s sense of time.


Monday, August 27, 2012


If you are a reader, and haven’t yet discovered the novels of Nevil Shute, File:Onethebeach.jpgyou have a treat in store. And yes, he really did spell his name ‘Nevil’ - this way. On the other hand, his full name wasn’t ‘Nevil Shute.’ It was ‘Nevil Shute Norway.’ He was born in January 1989 and died in January 1960 after an extremely active life. Wiki says he died at the age of 60. According to my math, he lived a highly productive 71 years.

Deeply knowledgeable, highly readable and impressively prolific, I first ran across his works when at boarding school in England. The school was Ampleforth College in chilly Yorkshire, UK. The place was decidedly spartan in my day, but apparently has now gone co-educational. I would probably have read a lot less if the fair sex had been around when I served my time.

Unfortunately, my house library contained only a couple of Nevil Shute’s  works and it was against the rules to borrow books from another house. Nonetheless, I persuaded a normally law-abiding friend of mine, Anthony Du Vivier, who lived in another house, to do the deed – his house library was well stocked with Nevil Shute -  so ended up reading just about all Shute’s works. I doubt I did any useful school work during that period, but I have rarely been happier. To put it mildly, I was not overly fond of boarding school, and Shute’s extraordinary range of stories provided mental escape – if not physical.

Dr. Anthony Du Vivier is now a world renowned skin doctor and author of books on his specialty. He remains one of the most charming human beings I have ever met. He also gave me a piece of advice that has stood me in good stead over the decades. “My dear fellow, the best aphrodisiac is a really good bottle of red wine.” He was the best man at my wedding though had to be rushed to hospital after the ceremony. Overindulgence was not the cause. He was actually dying of leukemia, but an experimental drug saved his life. Though I married a commendable woman, my marriage did not survive unfortunately.

By the way, if you have need of a world class dermatologist, you can find Dr. Anthony Du Vivier at 62 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8AJ.

Nevil Shute is probably best known for his book On The Beach which was made into a truly outstanding movie by director Stanley Kramer. It starred Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins – and each time I see it, it terrifies me because the events it portrays are all too possible. There has been a global nuclear war, and both the U.S. and the Soviet Union have been annihilated. Lethal radioactivity is being blown south by the prevailing winds. There is no escape. The end of the world, and much of the action in the movie, takes place in Australia.  Given the agonies of a death from a high dose of radioactivity, the government dispenses lethal pills. 

Nevil Shute was a intriguing man in his own right, and his expertise and experiences underpin his books. He fought in WWI, became both an aeronautical engineer and a pilot in the Twenties and worked under Barnes Wallis of Dambuster fame. In WWII, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, worked for the Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development, and landed in Normandy on June 6 1944. In 1950, he emigrated to Australia – post war Britain was singularly drab and depressing – and wrote a further 11 books before dying of a stroke in 1960.

He was a highly successful author during his lifetime and deserves to be well known today. Though I have no idea what critics made of him – he would not be regarded as a literary writer, I suspect – I admired his extraordinary ability to make technical matters accessible and, above all, his superb story-telling ability.

The man was a master.



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Sunday, August 26, 2012


Having described the theoretical idleness of my idleness of my Saturdays, I guess I had better be honest about Sundays. Well, at this stage my work ethic tends to have cut in again, and I feel guilty about not working. Accordingly, I resolve to catch up and to start the week afresh.

Normally, I fail. Often, I get a get a great deal of work done on Sundays, but rarely quite what my work ethic demands. Something in me resists and I watch Meet The Press or similar.

It seems the White Rabbit and yours truly have a great deal in common. “I’m late, I’m late…”

Still, I enjoy my Sundays.

Normally, I work at least ten hours a day, but I am increasingly of the view that I would be more effective if I worked only four days a week and regarded the balance as I currently regard my Saturdays. I write that as someone who greatly enjoys his work, but who feels we haven’t given this work/life balance issue adequate thought. In truth, that is something of an understatement as far as the U.S., is concerned. We are the only nation in the developed world which doesn’t mandate vacations. It’s interesting to examine the performance of countries which do provide vacations. Mostly, it exceeds ours.

As for retirement, I find the prospect chilling. I can understand its relevance if one has one been working for decades at a job one does not enjoy; but I would write seven days a week if I had the energy.

Still, regardless of what I actually do, I rather like the idea of thinking I don’t have to work for three days a week. Since boarding school at too early an age (5) I have never much liked compulsion.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Today is Saturday, my self-designated day for relaxing and doing absolutely nothing in. I truth, I don’t do absolutely nothing, and frequently work extremely hard on Saturdays, but the important thing is that I don’t feel I have to. From Monday to Friday, I am driven by my work ethic. At the weekend, I like to fool myself that I have – temporarily - escaped it.

Am I deluding myself?

Of course. Nonetheless, I enjoy the warm and fuzzy feeling of being able to sleep-in, and read for hours. Normally, even at weekends, I get up around six, but today, Saturday, I dozed and listened to the radio until nearly 1.00 pm – and feel much the better for it. I love NPR and would burn incense towards it if I could find a local supplier. Actually, I tend to think of incense as “joss sticks” and really do find a joss stick or two very relaxing. The smell is wonderful, and I have so many happy memories associated with such a smell, that each experience is happier still.

When did I first encounter joss sticks? I was probably no more than eight or nine. At the time, my parents loved to scour antique and junk shops – and, within the limits of my pocked money, I became a collector. Some of the cheaper items were joss stick holders and similar – and thus I encountered joss sticks. I burned them regularly from that time.

Wiki states that ‘joss’ is derived from the Latin deus (god) via Portu guese. I was merely taught that ‘good joss’ was good luck.

I have always found it to be so.

Friday, August 24, 2012


English: Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. R...

English: Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. Red chalk. 33 × 21 cm. Turin, Royal Library ( 15571). NOTE This image is in red chalk. Do not revert to the black and white image. Deutsch: Kopf eines bärtigen Mannes, sog. Selbstbildnis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently Leonardo Da Vinci is the originator of the classic phrase: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

I first encountered it in a different form with other attribution as it related to books: “No book is ever finished, only abandoned,” but suspect Leonardo still deserves the credit. I can tolerate the man being a genius, but he was talented to excess.

Either way, there is a great truth to that statement, particularly in relation to books, because, where traditional Big Publishing is concerned, no sooner does an author submit his best effort (at that time) but a host of people read his or her work and push for changes. Typically, the goal is to make a book both conform to established (corporate) prejudices, and to fit into an established (corporate) genre. After all, if a book cannot be labeled, how can it be marketed? And if something cannot be marketed, what value can it have?

Words fail me at this point. 

I will confess to being less than madly enthusiastic about this stage in the long, slow march to traditional publication. I don’t disagree with the editing process as such – it can be very beneficial - but the fact is that great editors are in woefully short supply, and the modern corporate equivalent is, more often than not, no fun to encounter. Corporatization (the relevant facet in this case being the trimming of their numbers in the interests of short term profitability) has meant they rarely have adequate time to do a decent job, let alone champion the interests of the writer; and – good grief – the current practice, in the finest corporate tradition – is to buy books by committee; and thus we get formula publishing; and precious little else. That does not mean that formula books are not entertaining, and sometimes well-written, but it does mean that not only are we being culturally manipulated, but we are also being culturally limited.

Yet creativity, the antithesis of the status quo, or formula, is advanced by originality, commitment and passion; and I have yet to encounter a passionate committee. Committees are a commendable concept in theory, but in practice they tend to be self-neutralizing; and they really and truly don’t do passion.

Sometimes I think that the world is divided, not just into the haves and have-nots, but the creatives and the guardians of the status–quo; and both the haves and the creatives constitute two very small minorities; and are rarely the same people.

The reason why the haves persevere is scarcely a mystery – after all they have all the the physical advantages and comforts – but why creatives, who live mostly with failure, persevere is something of a mystery. Could it be that the imperative to create is its own reward, and generates its own momentum? Could it be that creativity is a vastly more powerful force that we currently appreciate?

Could it be that it is, as yet, substantially untapped? Now there is a subversive thought if ever there was one. Nonetheless, I hold it to be true.

To be continued…





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Thursday, August 23, 2012


The premise of the Eagle & Cuckoo stories revolves around the idea that since the U.S. has become so corrupted by corporatism, greed, materialism, ignorance and Fast Food, the only living creature left with the character required to turn the country around is Eagle, symbol of America, and head of all the eagles in the U.S.

Eagles do have names – in E&C’s world - but the head of all eagles is just called 'Eagle.’ It is, in Eagle-world, a term of respect. Just in case you ever have to address him, you should know that you don’t say: “Mr. Eagle.” You just say: “Eagle.”

Similarly, Cuckoo, a very complex character as you will learn, is just called: “Cuckoo.”

Accordingly, the ageless and wise Cuckoo, the Watcher for The Place For Reasonably Good People (where you go after you die if you haven’t done anything too terrible), is tasked with preparing Eagle for his extraordinarily demanding task. Eagle is going to be taught the full scale of his future responsibilities, and will eventually morph into into human form and run for the presidency; and win. Will he live on as a human or revert to being an eagle? That is only one of many incredibly difficult decisions that Eagle has to make; and some have entirely unexpected consequences. A third option is that he will be assassinated. Recall that E&C is not just an extremely amusing satire; it is an action-packed thriller as well. And the action is frequent, violent, ingenious,and unpredictable.

An eagle as president! This is a crazy idea. The again, perhaps not given the caliber of many of the people who have sought this office. But the real point is to bring perspective to our current bizarre situation while also credibly describing Eagle & Cuckoo’s own  surprisingly developed world. After a page or two, they will become very real to you; and Eagle and Cuckoo  are particularly attractive characters. They are intelligent, witty, courageous – and almost human in the span of their emotions. But they are not human, which is precisely the point.

The entire Eagle & Cuckoo saga is told in three books – each a hilarious yet gripping full story in its own right – part satire, part thriller, part high adventure; and endlessly fascinating as a complete alternative character driven world is unfolded. Will there be other E&C books? Quite possibly.

How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America: The Beginning.

How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America: The Contest.

How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America: Mr. President

The following is what a good friend of mine, Mack McKinney, wrote on August 11 2012 after re-reading the first book with his wife, Bea.

“Hey Victor -
As I've said I have been re-reading E&C along with Bea and we've finished. I know at some point I've suggested you get 'em all done before publishing any but have changed my mind. At this point in history I think Book 1 would be a giant hit, and give you a cash flow to produce the rest if indeed there ever is an end to your trilogy [Recall Douglas Adams' 4th book of the Hitchhiker trilogy]. I'd like to send a few to a few special people, and bet lots of other people would too. You could so easily get on Colbert with the idea of the Eagle alone. And certainly Letterman, and then the newsier ones might even get involved. It's just such a wonderful fantasy with amazing tidbits of information interwoven. I love that book!”

High praise indeed, and deeply appreciated.

To be continued…





Wednesday, August 22, 2012


To aid my recovery, I temporarily put aside my venture, and instead worked on How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America: The Beginning. In truth, I didn’t have much choice in the matter. It was as if my persona was taken over by some mischievous djinn and compelled to write the story. If you are wondering what a djinn is, do not not concern yourself. I’m merely trying to convey the idea that I felt creatively possessed as if by some alien force. If that sounds overly dramatic, it is not meant to be, but whatever the source of my creative compulsion, it was exceptionally strong. That said, I would be less than honest if I didn’t state that creativity is a powerful force even at its weakest. It may manifest itself as a modest hint or a subtle insight, but that is no more than a disguise. In truth, the creative urge is an imperative which will not be denied. Are serial killers driven by the same kind of force? Damned if I know; I’m a writer, and have not turned homicidal (as yet). What I will say is that when a creative idea takes hold, there is no stopping it.

The project started with my wondering was there any way one could comment about the U.S.’s current disastrous political and economic state without resorting to the generally uninformed level of debate which seemed to prevail; and which rarely advanced the state of the argument at all. Indeed, it was (and continues to be) more a self-neutralizing clash of prejudices and obduracy than rational discussion. Not only do facts seem to have almost no effect on whatever subject is being debated, but frighteningly few people seem to be armed with any facts; and fewer still to be informed by the truth.

Suddenly, the idea of a satire popped up into my head – inspired, as it happens by thoughts of one of my favorite books, Gulliver’s Travels (written by an Irishman, I’m proud to say) then the basic concept of E&C (Eagle & Cuckoo) popped into my head virtually ready to roll.

A cuckoo! Why not pair an eagle and an owl? I hear you think. After all, owls are traditionally considered the wisest of all birds. Well, precisely for that reason. The point of satire is to illuminate the human condition through irony and ridicule; and not to advance the obvious. Besides, the idea of making Cuckoo into the ageless teacher and source of wisdom appealed to my sense of the ridiculous and irony.

But Americans don’t do irony, said an inner voice. That stopped me in my tracks, I can tell you – because, broadly speaking, that is an accurate comment. However, then I thought about the Jon Stewart Show – which certainly does use irony, albeit leavened by Stewart’s hilarious body language, and felt much better about the whole thing. But, really I’m rationalizing, because this was a story which I was going to write regardless.

But, what was the premises underpinning How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America?

To be continued…

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Back on July 15 2010, I embarked upon what I expect to be the last entrepreneurial activity of my life. If that sounds melodramatic, it is not meant to be. I’m not planning – as far as I know (the subconscious is tricky) -to commit suicide. It was merely that at the age of 66 (and I am two years older now) I thought it unlikely I would risk all again after my proposed venture. Risk is normally the perquisite of the young and the middle-aged.

Besides, it seemed probable that what I had in mind would – and will -take the rest of my life. Book-writing is extraordinarily satisfying, but its fiercest proponent would never describe it as speedy. It is more akin to long, slow sex where one hovers just on the edge of orgasm – but holds back because the marginally lesser satisfaction is so pleasurable, that the short-lived ecstasy of release becomes an option best delayed. Similarly, after one completes a draft – the climax, if you will - a depressive reaction  (post book-writing tristesse) - is not uncommon. The struggle – the fascinating, maddening, frustrating, mentally exhausting, totally compelling process of trying to translate one’s thoughts into written words – is The Thing.

Initially, I had some hopes of trading as soon as Christmas 2010, but the gods laughed at me. I became involved in helping to care for Jo in October 2010, in watching her die in December, and in tidying up after in early 2011, and then I was unpleasantly ill with a virus in March 2011 and didn’t really get even part of my strength back until April 2011. It’s disconcerting to feel so weak for so long. Subconsciously, I suspect I still hold to the schoolboy notion that an ailment should last no longer than two to three weeks: Measles; Chickenpox; Whooping Cough; Flu: Those were simpler days. But I became 67 on May 23 2011 and nature has its own agenda. I recovered, but at a pace commensurate with my years,

To be continued…