2007 — 29 November: Thursday already

Lend a thought, if you will, to my friend and ex-colleague Graham Barber, who is saying farewell to his wife and best friend Sally at her funeral service today in Basingstoke. I have to say I know exactly what hell he's going through just now, and I probably know almost exactly how he feels about it, too!

As I said to our GP Dr Joey, while thanking her for attending Christa's service last week: "Just get on and cure this [expletive deleted] disease will you, please?" She said they are trying to...

Too late for Sally and Christa.

Antipodean sympathy

My first second-line manager (Peter Bloxsom) in ICL Beaumont, Old Windsor, back in February 1974, introduced me to the Kai Lung stories of Ernest Bramah.1 I can still remember Peter asking me "Who's that nubile young lady I saw you with, out in the car park?" as we watched Christa from an upstairs office window, too. (Peter always had an eye for the ladies.) Here's a photo of Christa from fairly late in the summer of 1974. "Nubile" is such an appropriate word, and notice, too, her ever-present captivating smile... (what a pity you cannot also hear what my cousin Leigh described as "that sexy German accent", but I can).

Christa in Old Windsor, July/August 1974, outside our rented farmhouse flat

The email I received from Peter this morning reminds me of Pascal's wager:

I'm just trying to say, David, in my rambling way, that I'm not a complete stranger to sickness and death. I've never forgiven God, if he exists, for my father. I'm with you on the religion angle. I'm really no better equipped to be an atheist than to be any variety of religious believer. But the hope of being eventually reunited is at least one that's unlikely to bring you disappointment. If oblivion is what we face, then we won't exist anyway to know disappointment. On the other hand, if there is "afterlife", the possibility remains that we won't be disappointed. A variation on Pascal's Wager.

Meanwhile all we can do is make the most of our own life: try to maximise the time spent doing what we enjoy,2 and to appreciate family and friends to the full. And I know from what you've written that you realise all that.

Peter Bloxsom

Thank you, my distant friend. Your own second-line manager at that time (John Smythson, the first programming instructor on the [now, ancient, and largely-forgotten] LEO range of mainframes) has just had this to say about Christa's funeral service: I must admit that my first thought was one of pleasure that it was only half an hour long. Then pleased it wasn't religious. He adds that [you and Peter] were very brave to stand up in front of everybody and say anything and concludes, in frankly inimitable Smythsonian style: I don't mention Christa. That's because we had already formed a high opinion of her; the funeral reminded us of her and what a vast loss she is to you. Thanks, John. We're both tickled!

Completing an extraordinary ICL re-union hat-trick, I also heard from Penny Guthrie today. Penny, you didn't sound even remotely like "an amateur caption writer for sympathy cards" though I can see a worthwhile career clearly awaits you in that field should you choose. We did indeed have a wonderful relationship, Christa and I, and that simple, irrefutable, truth is the glue that's helping to hold me together now that she's gone. Lovely to hear from you, and thanks for the good wishes.

Where there's a Will... department

Off to the bank now to pick up the original of Christa's Will. (It, and mine, are simple mirror image documents: they both leave literally everything to the surviving partner,3 or to Junior, or to Junior's children, or to the five nephews and four nieces in Germany and New Zealand respectively.) There are some simplifying advantages to having a small family, I guess.
Mission accomplished. Time, therefore, for a little drive out into the countryside for a cuppa tea (at Hillier's) as a reward with my neighbour as co-pilot. By the way, the reverse bay parking is slowly improving according to my instructor this morning. The two "blind spot" mirrors attached to the wing mirrors are an enormous help. Tomorrow, I face yet more trips round the Driving Test circuit to help get me further acclimatised. And the miles-driven figure has just climbed through the 1,700 total. I've managed to drive nearly every day since Christa went into hospital, and have thus averaged a little over 35 miles per day. My co-pilot says he'll be mortified if I fail, but he won't be nearly as mortified as I will be, let me assure him.

I've said it before... department

Font design is more of an art than a science, but a very rewarding one when you get it right. I suggest you investigate Tiresias. You should also stop by the Wikipedia entry — fascinating stuff. It will even take you to Frank Herbert's Dune!



1  He also took me and Christa along to a Mensa meeting to listen to Hans Eysenck (a much less funny man than Bramah) making a bit of a mess of explaining "intelligence" as he saw it, but that's another story.
2  There's a nice piece of "cod philosophy" here that puts things into a golf ball perspective. The punch line made me smile, certainly.
3  My untrained, illegal brain suspects that would be me, providing I don't manage to kick the bucket for 30 days from Christa Sunday!