Et In Arcadia Ego


My bad days are now so few and far between that I had come to believe that they were mercifully at an end. Today, however, was the fifth bad day in a row, more than at any point since I was in hospital in Exeter and in London, when I had very bad days indeed for a solid month. I then experienced little apart from bad days for a few months after leaving hospital, mainly on account of how fragile I felt after having been subjected to such a massive operation.

All the same, I consider myself lucky. I wasn’t pleased when I found myself having a bad day nearly a week ago, but I’m able to recognise it for what it is. I don’t ignore it and in any event, it’s beyond my powers to do so, but I can accept that I’m having a bad time, while I’m extremely fortunate to be able to maintain this stoic attitude for five days. I hope I won’t have to do so for much longer, because I can’t deny that the whole experience is extremely trying and debilitating, and while I flatter myself that I have extensive internal resources, it stands to reason that there must be limits to my tolerance or stoicism.

Earlier today, I had a phone call from my friend Captain Robert Fore and it is always a huge pleasure to speak with him. He didn’t bring the subject up, but while we were chatting, it dawned on me that my bad day or days weren’t remotely in the same league as those endured by the crew of the Primrose when they were stranded off the coast of North Sentinel Island in August 1981.

Given the conditions on the day and the terrifying consequences of something going wrong during the rescue, it’s unthinkable that my bad days remotely compared to Captain Fore’s experience when he chose to come to the aid of the crew of the Primrose by helicopter, so this is something else I became consciously aware of and benefited from during the course of our conversation.

An hour or so later, I decided to go for a stroll with my son Jack and we soon came to the shallow pool in the river where my old dog Blueboy loved to play and cool himself down on warm days such as this. The memories of these countless happy times soothed me as I stood on the bank in the warm rays of the late afternoon sun, while the specific memory of Blueboy and of how much I know he loved me were a balm to my troubled soul.

These are all good things, so I’m grateful for the mental qualities that I possess and I greatly appreciate the kind efforts of others that I sometimes speak and correspond with, that help to ease my recovery along. Be that as it may, the operation I underwent at the end of March this year is a common one that’s been successfully carried out for decades, so it’s inevitable that I find myself wondering yet again why the medical profession seems to be able to do so little for me, because I should surely be feeling far better than I do.

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