Have you thought about dying?
No, I mean seriously considered the possibility.
Over the years writing articles for Mr and Mrs 50plus, a few readers have suggested that my early demise would be a good idea.
I hadn’t thought about dying until a strange event took place. I wrote an article about people I had met in my City (of London) career including Robert Maxwell (see mrandmrs50plus archives). A London publishing pal (he writes proper books) said I should write my autobiography, and so I have.
It proved to be the most extraordinary experience. I discovered that I had a remarkable grip on my memory. As one example I can recall at the age of five, (1950) carrying my ration book to the local sweet shop to get a bar of chocolate. For those of you who like quiz questions, which was the last item of food to be de-rationed in 1953? Answer: beef. My marriage to Judy has lasted fifty-four years and I can recall every row. In the 1980s I was in China on business, was taken ill and rushed to a hospital in the centre of Beijing. I can remember every (blank) Chinese doctor and nurse who delighted in prodding me.
But back to dying. As I began the task of writing eighty thousand words, I realised that my book might become my obituary. This was the first challenge. Did I tell the truth? No man always tells his wife the truth. “Did you enjoy your dinner, darling?” Reply. “It was delicious, Honey.” The truth.
“Bloody rice again.”
The Truth about Memories
The next issue that arose was, ‘how do I want to be remembered?” It’s staggering what the use of omission can achieve. Have a read of ‘Square Mile Tales’ and marvel at the career I enjoyed. If only! By not revealing that my corporate finance house nearly went bankrupt three times, I appear to have been a successful entrepreneur.
Then there are the more subtle episodes. When writing my Mr Moan articles for MrandMrs50plus, and this will shock you, the editor would change my wording. It reached a point where I had a teddy bear on my desk and when my revised article was sent back to me, I would beat the living daylights out of it. But here’s the clever bit. I would write back and say, “Hi Kathryn, thanks for my revised article. It’s a privilege to benefit from your brilliant editorial skills.” And then I would beat up my teddy bear again.
Finally, the day came when I had completed the first draft of ‘Square Mile Tales’ and I decided to live dangerously. I asked Judy to read it. She disappeared for a week and then handed it back to me. “Well?” I asked. “Not bad,” she replied. I think the decision to include a statement that she is still as good looking as when we married (which she is) paid dividends. Might you she did serve rice for the next three evening meals.
But then the coup de grace arrived. I submitted my manuscript to the publisher and sat back to ponder. I know I had written it as honestly as I could. But that was not the over-riding conclusion.
I realised that I have led a most fulfilling life surrounded by my wife and family including grandson Henry (10) and with some fabulous friends, political experiences and a career in the City.
Do read my book. I don’t care whether you enjoy it or not. I’ve had a ball writing it.
Actually, I do care.