24 November 2006

On "Completing"

Two people died today. Not of course counting all the Aids victims in Africa, all the children with malaria, all the refugees in Darfur and elsewhere, and 150+ in Iraq. And all the others.

Why comment on two deaths? Because they touch me, in quite different ways.

Nick Clarke was the consummate broadcaster. There are well-deserved tributes on the BBC site, as there should be. I shall miss him. Much as I respect the "Today" confrontational interviewing style, Nick embodied a wonderfully courteous but forensic manner (and the term "forensic" has cropped up in so many tributes).

But Den died today, too. Susi knew him much better than I did. I only met him once, when I drove him and his cat ("Jennifur") on her last trip to the vet. Susi was late for dinner on Sunday, when she went to visit him; she had to wait for a loaf to finish baking so she could take it home. It's wholemeal. It's still edible. But Den (who was well into his 80s) collapsed in the street this morning and was pronounced dead at the hospital later, despite their best efforts.

Den was a gloriously cantankerous eccentric. Not that he set out to be so. He would have despised such affectation. He was a vegetarian; he believed that central heating undermined civilisation; he was a slave to his cat; he was a hellenophile--he married a Greek woman he met during WW2 (I think) ...

Sadly, his family were not with him when he died. But in all probability he never regained consciousness. And that, from all I have heard, is exactly as he would have wished it. It was impossible to imagine him surviving in residential care, for instance. He would have been sad about the shock of his death to his loved ones (and particularly his cat, of course!) but it was the best way to go. For him.

"Completion" is a euphemism for "death" in Ishigoru's novel Never let me go. "Euphemism" is not quite the right term; read the novel to understand what I mean. It haunts me. "Haunts" is here the right word...

"Completion" implies a pre-determined purpose, and for Ishigoru's characters that is a given. For most of us, it isn't. But had Nick or Den "completed"? Will I?

2 comments:

  1. Whenever death comes to a friend, to an associate, or even to someone whom we know (but who did not know us at all, we could not help but pause and reflect with our own "humanity". "What if? Will I?"

    I have finished reading your "Apologia" and basing from it, you need not worry about "completing". I understand that you are a Christian, you mentioned it somewhere in your write ups... Are you still a Christian? If you are, then there is no worry when your time comes.

    But for today, press on!!! More power!

    Linda Vilma

    ReplyDelete
  2. Whenever death comes to a friend, to an associate, or even to someone whom we know (but who did not know us at all, we could not help but pause and reflect with our own "humanity". "What if? Will I?"

    I have finished reading your "Apologia" and basing from it, you need not worry about "completing". I understand that you are a Christian, you mentioned it somewhere in your write ups... Are you still a Christian? If you are, then there is no worry when your time comes.

    But for today, press on!!! More power!

    Linda Vilma

    ReplyDelete

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