Unseasonal Blackberries Save the Day

On a long walk miles from our home in Brittany, my wife Rohan saw some ripe blackberries. It was in the last week of July so they had no right to have ripened, indeed the berries around our house were still as they should be - small and green with their drupelets (their surface ‘bobbles’) tightly packed. But of…

Brian – Ill, Resolute and Unbowed

Brian and I have lunch together each week when we can. We first met during French classes around ten years ago; he was my teacher. Our meals started soon after. Brian was sixty five, I was two years older and we clicked. Initially, conversation was limited - while his French was fluent, mine was still…

Mother Nature’s Unfinished Business

  In the five years before she died, my elder sister Susan was plagued by shortness of breath. For Ann, the dominant last symptom was pain. For Mike, whose recent operation has made all the difference, it was ankle swelling. Odd as it may sound, all suffered unnecessarily because their bodies responded inappropriately to their…

Not the 10 o’clock Snooze

It is almost two months ago to the day since I had my operation. As is common in men of my age, my prostate had grown uncomfortably large and was in need of a trim. The operation went well, but the immediate post-operative weeks brought some challenging moments when I contracted two bacterial infections that…

Back to the elements

Our recent holiday in Kenya was special. And we, to be more precise I, went with serious concerns. The UK had declared that civil unrest made the country unsafe for holidaymakers. Friends warned us about the dual dangers of altitude and buffalo - unlike lions and elephants, buffalo are plain spiteful. And research on the…

Fleeting memory

‘Quick’. ‘Look’. ‘Top of the trellising’. And there they were, just two metres away, a pair of goldfinches. I knew that they were around, we had talked about them often, but this was the first time I had actually seen them, and in our own garden too. They were small (shorter than a robin), and…

Funny thing, laughter

Laughter is one of the great pleasures in life. It is also complicated as in addition to its traditional role in humour, it sometimes takes on a social role when it becomes an altogether more serious matter. In the world of humour, laughter is probably at its most pleasurable when it gets out of hand.…

In celebration of the oral contraceptive

Later this month we will be celebrating the birthday of the oral contraceptive pill which was officially born (received marketing approval) on 23 June 1960. The approval was given in the USA, and a year later Germany, Australia and the UK followed suit. The launch of ‘the pill’ must be one of the iconic events…

The cruel denial of assisted dying

Whatever else, arguments for and against assisted dying must include the notion of cruelty. And, in my view to refuse the request for advice on, or help in, dying (the legal requirement of doctors at present) when asked for help by patients of sound mind, who are competent to make decisions, who are suffering unbearably…

Long live love, long live life!

Inevitably, we greyhares get a bit gloomy from time to time. We are, after all, faced with uncertain futures. But some of the reasons for pessimism are receding. For a start, we now know that as a group we can expect to live much longer than any previous cohort of our age.  Overall, by 2030…