Mortality, it is said, creeps up on you.
The call yesterday telling me that a dear and longstanding friend of mine had prostate cancer - and not in any benign way either - came as a rude shock, driving thoughts of my being still 18 out of my head.
Perhaps I'm 30 now.
My friend is having injections and will then undergo 7 weeks of radio therapy, 5 days a week. I'm afraid I slightly thought of Simon Gray, who decided not to have anything done, continued smoking manfully and lasted quite a number of years, despite having virtually killed himself off years before with alcohol.
The fact we are all living longer is, of course, partly to blame for the illnesses we oldies suffer. Never forget when Bismark first promulgated pensions for the elderly workers of the Prussian Railway system, he set it at 65, when the average mortality age was less than 60. It's also worth remembering that people worked ALL their lives in days gone by, and it's only relatively recently that we have had a period of ( s0-called) leisure as the shades draw in. I am, however, assured by friends in that position that they have never been busier.
I'm afraid I don't see myself as ever retiring, keeping at least some business activity going to keep an interest, but then, you never know - I might win the lottery tonight.
But back to my friend. I teased him that his present predicament was becuase he had had too many women in his life.
" Oh no," he said," It's clearly because I've had too few...."
*"... I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take"