Mrs.Thatcher went while we were with Emma and family. I interviewed her for the Express after she stopped doing free milk for children (she must have been education minister). Ours was not a happy relationship. I can hear her explaining au Gerald Nabarro how an interview consisted of her holding forth while I nodded and noted. (My words!). Simultaneously I was explaining (politely) that my idea of an interview was my asking the questions and taking notes when she answered. That’s still my notion but it was not hers. Oh, no. The Express did not use what I wrote – I suppose my antipathy showed. Odd, since Anna Neagle only had to fart you would have thought Mrs. Thatcher…
Colin Davis also shuffled off. The Express did use that piece. About much the same time I interviewed the man I always thought of as Charlie (later Sir Charles which didn’t really suit him) Mackerras. He was Australian. The paper used that too and I was in danger of becoming, pace Herbert Kretzmer, the Express music critic. Luckily for everyone that didn’t happen. Patrick Garland also died. I never interviewed him but admired him from afar.
“Wonking on about death again, Heald”.I’m afraid so, sir. It’s the end of a chapter. And I’ve been twice to Yeovil Hospital, once to the GP and wheel-chaired through Heathrow. Death is inevitable. Happens to us all. Read Julian Barnes. Went to the Crime Writers’ conference in a hotel in Bowness overlooking Lake Windermere. Chauffeured by a friend whose car had been serviced three weeks earlier, it collapsed short of Bristol, the friend hired a substitute, which was bigger and more comfortable and more fun to drive. Even so we arrived four hours or so late. Basil Copper, a former chair, had died and Bob Barnard, a Balliol stalwart, was in a home with rumoured Alzheimer’s. And I was walking with a stick and slow of speech. Wonking on? Afraid so.
It was fun though. That first night I attempted the salmon en croute and failed thanks largely to a late picnic in the service area at Stafford. The friend is an accomplished cook and assembler of lunch. Hence smoked salmon in Bristol followed by a salad roll and two of Mr. Barclay’s excellent sausages in Stafford. Oh and grapes. Very good. We anticipated wall to wall rubber chicken at the hotel but not, emphatically,so. Nevertheless I failed with the fish. Otherwise I enjoyed Martin Edwards who was well-informed as ever about the Golden age and my dinner neighbour that first night who spoke with equal authority on fire arms. Also attended the AGM which was just as I remembered when I was chair. Oh, John Kennedy Melling and Any Other Business. There was always business when JKM was around.
Otherwise the first half of the month was a fortnight in Florida with Emma and family. Hot, Florida. Not like Somerset. Apart from the excitement of a wheelchair at Heathrow and at Miami airport I spent a lot of time by the pool reading my newish Kindle. Kindle is an advance for the reader. No question. Probably for the writer too, but emphatically not for conventional publishers. Apart from the heat, the dogs, the little boys and all that that implies the two weeks were deliciously lazy. I hobbled to Joe’s for ritual crab claws, hobbled to watch a grandson play foreign and therefore incomprehensible flag football and hobbled to the local farmer’s market on Sunday morning. Correction. I may have hobbled once there but I was Landrovered or SUVed to and from by my hard-working daughter. Well played, Emma. The old man is very grateful. The family went ski-ing in Colorado in the middle leaving us to dog-sit Karl and Beggar. Both are rescue dogs; Karl is beautiful and Beggar, well, Beggar not. Despite being a rescue dog (Emma cheated to get him), Karl looks as if he happened on purpose. Beggar, who is part poodle, has too many teeth and is a one-trick animal, does not. He does not like thunder either which is why Penny and he were under the bed at 2.30 in the morning the night we arrived. I was, apparently, asleep at the time. The dogs spent much of the day curled up at my feet when they were not shouting at interlopers or neighbours. Shortly after our return Emma resigned from her job as Vice-President of the local museum in charge of fund-raising and I was offered a new hip on May 29th by Yeovil Hospital. The children will bring grapes and according to the experts – which means everyone – I shall be frolicking. It doesn’t feel like it at the moment. British Airways were ghastly, by the way. They sent a questionnaire (the electronic nerve) and totally failed to absorb our quite expensive return seat booking. And, and…it is a bit sad for those who remember BOAC and first flew in Stratocruisers!
Grumble, grumble, gripe, gripe. Actually I have a theory about my health but, for a variety of reasons, I am unable to articulate it. Suffice it to say that I remember a nice GP in Cornwall warning me off hospitals and medical experts. His grounds were probably spurious and I have good reason to be grateful for the medical profession but I can’t help remembering what he said. I was always difficult which, for me, is a consolation even though it is a nightmare for others.
I have written about Florida for the CGA. In a sense it is like the Lady. Pace my “aunt” who would have thunk it? The country gentlemen are unconventional which is good. Other more conventional outlets would have demanded (and got) something more conventional about Pinecrest, the Biltmore and suburban Miami but I wanted to write something more original. Luckily Melanie and the country gents seem to like it. I have another theory about how relatively bad old-fashioned magazines and newspapers have become while specialist magazines that people used to warn aspiring journalists against have become acceptable. Discuss. It is a point of view anyway. And I like hearing things discussed.
Off to London next week-end for galleries (P) and restaurants (me). We shall take Berry’s bus and by the time we return First will “reluctantly” have withdrawn the 52 from Bower Hinton to Yeovil. It doesn’t turn a profit and I am sometimes the only person on board. As everything these days has to make money this is clearly ridiculous. The Prime Minister says so and Cameron has decreed that austerity is the name of the game. Part of the problem is that the crisis is or appears to be artificial or at least man-made. We took it for what may have been the last time, had a pizza at Tamburino and were turned out of the cinema about twenty minutes in to something beyond the Pines, the film. The manager did it and said that the movie was displaying wrongly (looked all right to me) and then said that the technicians had discovered something terribly wrong. He made it sound as if the techies had saved us from a fate similar to if not worse than death and we all got a refund and a freeby. So that was all right then wasn’t it?
So April has gone and now it’s May. Both are girls’ names, indeed I had a great-aunt called May Why not November? Or indeed January when I was born. Discuss…discuss everything. Death even!