There is no subject less interesting than the illness of others, so I shall merely report that I am in bed with a stuffed nose, eyes steadily oozing some bitter unguent, and a head as large and sore as the Voortrekker Monument.

My father would have turned 81 today; my mother turns 80 in December, and I myself see, with disbelief, a large number looming. Get thee hence, Satan!

More prosaically, but perhaps more momentous than the arbitrary commemoration of a date, I said to Rob this morning – or growled, rather, through a phlegmy throat – do you realise, I said, that in five months’ time, give or take, we will be leaving for Canada?

‘Just hearing you say that fills me with panic,’ she said, and went out shopping.

So I have slept much of the morning, and roused myself – splashed my face with cold water and rinsed out my gummy eyes – just long enough to jot down a few random reflections. I think I shall go back to bed now, and pull up the covers.

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