My Monday night book club is more than 20 years old. People have dropped in and out over the years. I was off in Brussels myself for 5 years. Shortly before I went away, we got a new member. A friend of a friend. I didn’t really get to know her as I was off in Brussels for most of her tenure and by the time I came back, she’d married an Austrian and moved to Austria.
I remember visiting her once in her family home in the midlands accompanied by my friend. I remember it because they lived in an actual castle, a mock gothic 19th century castle. Freezing, naturally. And as well as being a very nice woman she was also very beautiful and she looked slightly otherworldly standing in the door of her castle welcoming us in (though wearing a warm woolly jumper rather than a diaphanous dress which would have been more in keeping as it was, as indicated above, freezing). She died at the weekend. She had cancer. She was only in her early 50s. I have been rejoicing recently in the many successes of my book club friends. That’s middle age for you. So is this, I suppose.
When my father died, one of his friends wrote to me; a lovely letter with a long description of his friendship with my father in their early university years, nearly 80 years ago. He is almost the last of my father’s circle of friends left alive. He’s in his mid-90s and is in reasonably good nick. His wife died at the weekend. She was in her 80s and had been ill. I feel very sad for him. He has two sons whom he adores and grandchildren too but I’m not sure how long he will last without his wife of more than 50 years.
I’m going to the funeral on Wednesday with my sister. More gloomy updates to follow, doubtless.