While my father is about a fortnight away from death in 2001, life goes on

My father and mother on Clacton seafront

My father and mother on the seafront at Clacton in Essex, UK

In the last few weeks, I have been posting extracts from my 2001 diary, when my father was dying – quite quickly – from cancer.

In the extracts below, he is still alive but only about a fortnight away from death – which, of course, I did not know.

Thursday 7th June – Clacton

I voted in Borehamwood this morning. There were three voting slips despite the fact I am only aware of there being two elections. One was for today’s General Election; one for a local election. I have not the faintest idea what the third slip was for, but fear I may have subscribed to Readers’ Digest.

Then it was off to Clacton to drive my mother to vote, take her for lunch and shopping, go visit my father in the nursing home, then take my mother to her GP to re-dress her scab. It now looks like a miniature deep-pan pizza.

Friday 8th June – Clacton

We were told that, from Monday, the local Clacton health authority will pay for my father’s costs at the nursing home. Until then, we will have to continue paying.

Saturday 9th June – Clacton

My mother does not like going to the nursing home: seeing the man who was always physically stronger than her and who has always ‘looked after’ her lie in bed weak of mind and body. The irony is watching your partner fall apart physically and mentally in front of your eyes and not realise it’s happening to yourself too.

My eye is mending. The previously bloody half is now mostly yellow with vertical red streaks and most of the blood has now gone below the pupil, so if I raise my eye to heaven, it looks like my pupil is supported on a pillar of blood.

Sunday 10th June – Clacton

Sometimes I wonder how I will die and, if it is to be in bed like my father, think it would be good to allow my brain to drift off into a fantasy world, allowing the whirling confusion to take over and go with it. Flowing with the stream of consciousness.

Monday 11th June – Borehamwood

My mother told me, on the phone, that when she arrived at the nursing home, my father had been watching TV and knew the names of the people he had been watching.

Tuesday 12th June – Borehamwood

My mother told me my father was quite chatty again.

Wednesday 13th June – Clacton

I went with my mother to visit my father. He was a little brighter but still terribly confused and unable to put his new hearing aid in properly.

Malcolm Hardee rang up this afternoon to tell me he has “bought a ship – not a boat – off a man in Ware”. He says he is going to live on it at Surrey Quays in Rotherhithe……Why do I think this is all going to end in nudity and flames?


Three months later, the planes hit the Twin Towers in New York.

Four years later, Malcolm Hardee fell in the water and drowned, while walking a few feet to his boat in Rotherhithe.

So it goes.

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