Saturday, April 12, 2008


Within the last few hours I've heard my next door neighbour has died and a very good friend for the last 25 years has had a heart attack.

Phillip, my neighbour, was a compact jolly man. He was getting old but I regularly saw him on the stairs as he jogged up and down the three flights to take the rubbish out. I always joked he could get up the stairs faster than me. He always wore immaculate white trainers and had a witty comment about something in the news or some recent local event. His health started to deteriorate very quickly a few years ago and one night I had a knock on the door from his distraught wife as Phillip had fallen and couldn't get up. I went in to their flat and manhandled him, as only an amateur can, back up onto the bed. A few days later he went into long term care and that was the last I saw of him although I often asked his wife Betty how he was as she went every day to visit him and spend the day with him. He died earlier this week and was buried on Thursday.

I've known my friend Colin, for over 25 years. We were flatmates in a terrible houseshare in Forest Hill. Everyone in the house got on fine, comrades in adversity really, as the landlord was a tedious little prat. The kind that leaves notes about the place while you're out.
We've all been friends ever since. He was running for a train on Thursday evening and suddenly collapsed. Next he knew he was in St. Thomas' Hospital being told he'd just had a heart attack. He called me from there a few hours ago. The prognosis sounds good. He had two blocked arteries which have been probed and have been deemed repairable without any invasive surgery needed. He has to take it easy for a while. We celebrated his 50th birthday only a few weeks ago. He's always been active, is definitely not overweight and is only a moderate drinker and never a smoker.

It's only times like this you start to think about how many people you know have actually died and the numbers get pretty frightening. My mum is one of three sisters. They all married. Of those three couples, one sister and all the husbands have died. Of the four who died, my father was the only one who got past 60.

My mother fortunately is still in robust health and shows no sign of fading at 70. That's probably got a lot to do with her lifestyle. Once she got rid of me and my brother she decided to keep horses instead of kids and has had, at any one time, between two and five horses on the go, so to speak. She's always done all the mucking out, grooming and all that stuff herself, as well as towing them around in horse boxes to go eventing. She can still chuck a 25kg sack of pony nuts further than I would care to try or bundle half a ton of recalcitrant horse flesh through the stables and out into the field for the day. Perhaps I should find myself a hobby like that or take up munro bagging or something as apart form the gym a couple of times a week my lifestyle is pretty sedentary.


sabrina said...

Just today i heard that one of the postgrad students died of a heart attack. 2 kids and not even 30!

It seems as if death is getting closer and closer and faster! I myself don't fear death but i do fear it would happen to someone i love terribly like my mum of course. And everytime i hear about someone dying, i get anxiety attacks at nights worrying about my mum

It's only at times like that that i wish we were all immortal

King of Scurf said...

I'm happy to be mortal but it seems the ultimate torture that as you get older your contemporaries around you disappear......maybe just when you need them the most.

And hey, a comment from you - how cool is that! Your blog is one of my favourites - it always makes me laugh!