Boxers say that it’s the punch you never saw that does the damage, and I certainly didn’t see this one coming. But as I write these words on the last day of my 32 years writing for The Times, I have to point out I haven’t been completely destroyed. In fact, I’m beginning to feel ever so slightly exhilarated.
Rather than sulking at home I went to Scotland to complete my last two assignments for the paper. I had a couple of days at the Commonwealth Games. Easily the high spot was a curry with the great Melanie Reid, who writes for The Times about life as a tetraplegic after her fall from a horse. A couple of days earlier I had texted her: “Do you mind not writing so brilliantly? I had hoped to indulge in a bout of self-pity this week and you’ve made it impossible.”
Then I went to Mull and spent three days with the eagles, two species, white-tailed and golden, filling the sky and my mind, so that’s another blast of sanity and perspective and joy and wonder. Eagles and people like Mel soar above the humdrum: so I’d better do my best to follow their example. No point in hanging about on the ground cursing my misfortune.
I’m hoping to crop up in various publications, and meanwhile, I have a couple of books to get on with, of which more later. I plan to make them life-affirming. I don’t really have anything you could actually call a plan right now, but I’m modelling myself on the characters in The Chronicles of Narnia who, at their most desperate moments, resolve to “take the adventure Aslan sends me.”
And that’s all right by me.