Friday, 24th April, 2020

[Day 39]

As we walked down into Bromsgrove this morning, we met with two of the grand-daughters of one of our best friends and received the news that we had been half expecting but was nonetheless distressing for us to hear. Our friend who is 88 had survived bouts of colon cancer and liver cancer and had been receiving regular chemotherapy for leukemia which was at least keeping the illness at bay. However, he is now on an end-of-life pathway and is only expected to live for about two more weeks. We hope to be able to go to his house (his nurses will not allow us inside) and perhaps we say a few words of goodbye to him through a downstairs window. We used to pass our friend nearly every other as he as taking the family Jack Russell dogs for their daily walk and we would always exchange jokes and the like with him. Our friend had been brought up in a Salvation Army household and although he had rejected this in his youth, he and his brother were encouraged to play a musical instrument and indeed played the trumpet for more than 75 years. One particular and very fond memory that we have was when he attended our local 50th wedding anniversary celebrations, he played the Bach chorale ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s desiring‘ using a variety of different mutes. Fortunately, we have this on video to remind ourselves of better times. As it happened, an opera singer friend of ours had sung this chorale at our wedding in 1967, so it was rather fitting that another close friend should help us celebrate fifty years later. We shall miss him tremendously – the only thing we can say is that it does not appear to be the COVID-19 virus which is hastening his end and so he at home surrounded by good medical care and surrounded by his family and friends who all love him. Here is the URL for any readers of this blog who remember Clive and would like to hear his rendition, performed when he himself was 85 years old: Trumpet piece Of course, what is distressing for all of us, his family and friends, is that Clive will not be able to have a proper ‘send-off’ as the funeral arrangements generally restrict the numbers to six close relatives only. We may be able to have a memorial service and ‘celebration of his life’ a bit later.

In the park, we had an interesting chat with a gentleman who, as it happens, was a past Chairman of Bromsgrove District Council (although he himself originally came from Kent) We exchanged views of what life was like in Bromsgrove and were thankful for the legacy of the 19th-century industrialist, Joseph Sanders, whose sisters had bequeathed the whole of the park to the town. After lunch, I cut the communal lawns, and then we spent a very pleasant couple of hours with our new-ish next-door neighbours in our back garden, being careful to observe a strict two-metre distance as we sat around a garden table but with the chairs well pulled back. It must have looked a funny sight but as both households had been busy of late, we had never managed to have a good ‘getting to know you’ conversation with them since they moved in. We were both taken aback by the news that President Trump had actually suggested that people should inject themselves with disinfectant as a way of overcoming the COVID-19 virus.

I experimented with an old tee-shirt to provide myself with a home-made face mask I looked at an online video to complement the diagram found in yesterday’s Times. This sort of worked but as the tags to tie it around your head need extending with spare strips of linen, the result looks a bit weird when viewed from the rear if not the front. I am reminded of a Kenny Everitt sketch of the world’s most incompetent do-it-yourselfer where there was a proliferation of bandages and the end result did look a little like this. I would rely on this home-made mask to escape a blazing conflagration but I not sure it makes an ideal fashion statement! But perhaps practice makes perfect, although a better solution might be just to wear my recently re-discovered neckerchieves.