Sep 12 2007
I haven’t had an invitation to your party on Thursday, so this is not a reply. On the other hand, Meg said I was sent one, so this is a reply after all, and yes, Caroline and I would like very much to come. Much to my surprise and pleasure, Rosie Boycott has asked us to stay the night in London, so we won’t have to rush away after the first drink to catch a romantic train back to Bath.
This gives me the chance to say one or two other things which I wanted to say to you sooner or later. One is that after being in and out of hospital over the summer, I have pretty definitely been diagnosed with cancer, and not even a nice kind of cancer, but the kind that did for Luciano Pavarotti, so although I am not going to fade away overnight, they are not going to give me lots of years either. Bit of a bugger, as they say. I now intend to make a list of all the things I want to do before I die, take a pin and choose one of them at random. “Go to Richard’s 70th birthday party”. Well, could be worse.
I also wanted to say that I recently read your book on Paul Foot and found it very touching. Very well written, too. I wouldn’t mind having something like that after my death. I won’t, of course, unless I do it myself, so I have now decided to write the first frivolous book about staring cancer in the face. The tentative title is “A Year in Denial”. This is serious, incidentally. There have been far too many brave books about cancer. We need a change of tone.
Also, and en passant, or perhaps en terminant, I was always a little disappointed that The Oldie never reviewed the book I had out last year called “Someone Like Me”, which was an extremely funny pseudo-autobiography. Perhaps I should have been less the shrinking violet, and been a bit more pushy. Well, it’s not long ago out in paperback, so it’s never too late.
I hope you get this before we meet tomorrow. You can shake me firmly by the hand, say gruffly that you think I am being pretty brave and add softly: “And you can go whistle for a book review, mon vieux. We are incorruptible here at The Oldie.”