Letters from London

An Irregular Column

by Will Pratt – 

The lawyer approves

That master of the incisive, perceptive word, former National Commander Commissioner Kenneth Hodder (R), shows no sign of losing his lawyer-like jurisprudence in retirement.

He was one of the many on our Christmas mailing list who 12 months ago received our apology for sending greetings nearer to Easter than Christmas. We explained that moving at the end of December had delayed our regular dispatch. Besides, it gave us the opportunity to advise friends of our new address.

I can think of no one else who would have replied as did Commissioner Kenneth:

“It was a pleasant surprise to receive our Christmas letter. I think it is a good idea to send Christmas cards in February and March. For one thing, people have already forgotten who sent what to whom, and it is far too early to think about who will send what to whom at the conclusion of the current year. Thus, the ones who send cards in February and March have the stage all to themselves. There is never a question about who sent what to whom when.”

Delightful and so very typical! A habeas corpus could not have said it better.

Prospect of a new man

When my friends learned I was to enter the hospital for a double coronary artery bypass graft, I was surprised to discover how many of them were cardiac experts. “Nothing to it, old boy,” they assured me, “simple as having an appendectomy.”

They seemed almost to be envious of me. They all knew someone who had undergone bypass surgery. “A chap at my bowls club had a triple bypass and he’s a new man now,” said my cousin. I could tell he thought my own transformation was long overdue. I would be letting down the family honor if I didn’t emerge from this operation a new man.

So I did my best to be excited and feeling fortunate when my wife and a cousin (not the bowls club cousin) drove me to the hospital. They stayed for a while, then left me, of course.

Being left alone to face whatever is to come happens to all of us at times. Even the presence of five other chaps (should that read “guys”?) in the ward didn’t lessen my sense of being left on my own, though I did have a feeling of being back in the Royal Navy by the “pallyness” of the five, one of whom called out, “A bloke got out of your bed just five minutes ago.” My natural reaction was to call out, “I hope they’ve changed the sheets,” but I felt checked by the stern look on the face of the staff nurse.

Family expectations were not in my thoughts when a charming nurse bent over me and casually mentioned she would give me what she called a “pre-med” to make me sleepy and…her voice faded into oblivion.

I was to learn yet again that when I’m on my own I’m more than ever conscious that I’m not really on my own. It’s one of the most precious aspects of my Christian faith. Incredibly the God who created us wants to be our constant companion. The promise constantly leaps out of the Bible’s pages:

“Be strong…The Lord your God will be with you.” “…I will fear no evil for thou art with me.” “… I will be with you always to the very end of the world.”

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