1973 was a bit hazy, but I think that must have been the year I found myself in Westminster Hospital because I would have been living with Giles. My crafty body/mind realised that I needed a legitimate reason to let go when I was desperately trying to hold everything together. It gave me what I am convinced was a psychosomatic appendicitis. The pain was no more than a niggle I would normally have shrugged off. I drove to the hospital, parked in the street outside, and presented myself. I was given the then welcome diagnosis.
The surgeon who removed the allegedly offending organ expressed puzzlement when he told me that there had been a “slight lesion” but otherwise it was in good order.
A day or two after surgery an attractive young nurse bent over me and said that she was going off for a few days and that she hoped I would still be there when she returned. Perhaps I should have been flattered, but I was ambivalently relieved when I was transferred to a convalescent bed, I think in a different building.
Just five days after the operation I had had enough, and discharged myself after signing the document stating that this was against medical advice. My car was where I had left it, giving another reminder of how times have changed. Not only would the car not have escaped removal today, but I would have had to park in hospital grounds and paid a fortune for the privilege.
I drove across London to what was now Jackie’s door and asked her to look after me. She did. Sadly, only for a short time.