Saturday, 27 October 2018


I’ve received a date for my first cataract operation! In fact, I’ve received two, but they are the same. (Why did the NHS waste money on sending out two identical letters to me?) Anyway, the date is an odd one – Sunday 11th November. As most people know, this is Remembrance Sunday, which this year is quite important as it will mark one hundred years since the end of the First World War. I double-checked the date on the letter(s) with my diary, and in the end I rang the telephone number specified if you need to change the date. The cheery receptionist was ‘not in her office’ and when she rang me back in response to my message, she mentioned that other people had called with the same query: is this the correct appointment date? Well, it turns out that it is correct. It would seem that the consultant and his staff, and all the admin staff, will be carrying on as usual on that day. I am surprised, but I applaud them for their dedication, and I confirmed that I do NOT want to change the date, I’m anxious to get this first operation out of the way!

It’s been a strange week: a funeral and another death. I’m getting sick of funerals – I seem to have attended rather more than my fair share over the years, but one reason for this is that at one point in my life I sang regularly in a Church choir, and we were often needed to sing at funerals. I used to enjoy that, because it felt as though the lovely old hymns and music we sang held a healing quality unlike that of words alone.

These days, losing friends and family members is very depressing. This funeral commemorated the life of an old and highly valued friend who, with his wife, lived in the same village in Mid-Devon where we used to live. Going back there for the service brought with it a host of memories. The day was bright with Autumn sunshine, warm and mellow with those unmistakable greens, golds and russet browns of trees beginning to lose their leaves.

The other death has been more sombre – if this is possible. It has stirred up a past I would prefer to forget. As I said to a friend: ‘I feel as though a door in my mind has been blown open and I can’t close it.’ For two days I fretted and struggled to cope, until my husband mentioned our dear old friend and mentor Mrs S. ‘Think of her,’ he told me, ‘and what she might have said.’ And I knew exactly what she would have said, in her wonderful down-to-earth Devon tones, scolding and yet comforting: ‘Gad… stop thinking about it! Get on with your work!’

I’m not writing much at the moment. All my writing ‘energy’ went into finishing ‘Stopping Time’ which I published in September. Some ideas are stirring for another book, but such is the way of this incredible muse, I need to wait until they become clearer before I begin to set them down. In any case, I’m hoping to get my eyes sorted out before I start another book!

Final thought: if my operation is at 11.00 will the surgeon keep the two minute silence?