3 April 2009

Posted by DMC on 3 April 2009 in Diary |

I went up to London today, to have lunch with my nephew, James Grand. Unfortunately the trip started badly. The train came in to the station at Audley End, I was the last to leave the waiting room and was unable to open the door quickly enough – it was just too heavy. By the time I managed to get the door open the train was about to depart. In my anxiety I dropped my bag, spilling out all the contents. To compound everything I then tripped over them and fell flat on my back. The kind man who stopped to assist me, said that he saw my head bounce on the concrete platform – however no harm done. By this time though, the train driver, possibly fearing he would be delayed, closed the doors and pulled out. I had to wait half an hour for the next train. Not a good start to the day.

I further compounded my problem by going into White’s Club and sitting there for 20 minutes before I realised I should have been 20 yards down the road at Boodles.



22 April 2009

Posted by DMC on 22 April 2009 in Diary |

Al. drove me up to Church Stretton to see my 92-year-old mother, who was in good form, if a little forgetful. We had a lovely trip stopping at some nice pubs on the way up and on the way back.

On our homeward journey we stopped off at Whitley Court, Great Whitley – a fabulous preserved ruin and very beautiful church. Unfortunately I felt distinctly off-colour. Quite exhausted and my legs felt leaden. Whether that has anything to do with the MND I know not. I must asked the doctor next I see him.



10 May 2009

Posted by DMC on 10 May 2009 in Diary |

I managed Lord’s quite well Alice took me to the station and the travel was okay. I now tend to keep my travel card in a plastic pocket hanging around my neck as I find it almost impossible to get my hand in my pocket to produce it. I did have a bit of a struggle carrying the bag with a bottle in it, and little else, from St. John’s Wood underground station through to the Warner stand in the Ground, a distance, I would guess, of around one mile. It was simply that the weight of the bag was almost too much for me, which is indicative of my weakening arms.

One thing I did learn today and that was the easiest way to eat a sandwich. My weakened arms means that I have to use both hands to get it to my month. I now have the sandwich chopped up into small bite-size squares, stab it a fork and, with the assistance of my wrist splint, can manage with my right hand alone.

The cricket was great, an excellent win for England against the West Indies and particularly encouraging to see new boys Swan and Onions doing really well, not to mention Bophara. I look forward to the Ashes in June. I think we will give the Aussies a good run for their money.

I spent Friday night at daughter Chloe’s in anticipation of taking son-in-law (and nephew Tom Grand) for the Saturday match, which sadly did not take place, the match being all over on the third day. So we went out to lunch in East Dulwich instead.

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12 May 2009

Posted by DMC on 12 May 2009 in Diary |

Up to London again today to Arbitration Club lunch. Stupidly I went to the wrong branch – Bishopsgate instead of Fetter Lane. When I discovered my mistake I grabbed a taxi and was only 10 minutes or so to late. The members are getting used to see me wearing my wrist splint and eating with my funny spoon and fork. This will prepare them for the time when one of them has to feed me.

After lunch I went to Waterstone’s, the bookshop in Piccadilly. I was curious to know if I would be able to buy E-books with my book vouchers. The answer was that I could, but first I had to have the value of these vouchers transferred to my Waterstone card. Then all I need to do is to go onto the net, give the number of my card and then download the book. It will be fun to try but I gather that the number of books available this way, at the moment, is rather limited. I forgot to ask Waterstone’s whether there was a comprehensive list, of these e-books, somewhere.

On to the Landsdowne club, off Berkeley Square, where I met my lovely for tea and a snooze before going to hear son Miles give up a talk to The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorian (the Welsh) at the British Academy, in Carlton Terrace. I was proud of him, he did well.

I had walked from Fetter Lane someway towards Piccadilly before catching a bus. Then from Waterstone’s to the Lansdowne Club, then to and from the club to Carlton Terrace. A lot of walking, probably 3/4 miles in all and to be honest I felt it in my legs. I really think they are getting weaker or maybe it is, as my dear wife suggests, what I should expect at almost 75 years old.

We ended the day back at the Landsdowne for dinner with the entire family. Karl, Chloe and Kimberley joined us after the talk. Not only a celebratory dinner for Miles, following his talk, also an early party for Chloe, whose birthday it is tomorrow.

Al and I made a dash for the train around 10 and got home at about at 11.30. I wasn’t sorry to get into bed.

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27 May 2009

Posted by DMC on 27 May 2009 in Diary |

My golfing mate Peter Southwick came this morning to look over the feeding frame. Like the nurse and occupational therapist who came recently he was kind enough to say it was a very good idea. He came up with a couple of very good suggestions for improving the design which I shall certainly follow. After that the question of how we marketed it after testing it in situ perhaps, in hospital or a care home.

It has been pointed out to me by my good friend Richard Morris, the blog designer, that I wanted to have click links to my Bionic Gloves and the Feeding Frame but I have decided that these will not become active until I have refined both products.

After Peter left I went up to London and had lunch with two of my sons’ contemporaries, both of whom I know extremely well and who were kind enough to shout me an excellent lunch which included some splendid wines, as Simon is in the trade. I disgrace myself coming home by falling asleep and missing my station. My darling wife, as always giving, did not make too much fuss about picking me up.

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5 June 2009

Posted by DMC on 5 June 2009 in Diary |

I had a good full day today which shows that there is still life in the old dog yet.

Lunch at the Oxford & Cambridge Club, with my good friend Wolf von Kumberg and a colleague of his. Then, on to Lords for the opening ceremony and first match of the 20/20 World Series. – England v The Netherlands. I saw the first 50 mins. or so when we were around 90 for no loss, I then had to leave to go to Covent Garden. It seems that the English team then fell apart and were all out for 161. In the event, the Netherlands won the match, by four wickets, on the last ball from a poor overthrow. Not a very promising start for the series for the home team.

The highlight of the day was, of course, the trip to Covent Garden – the second part of my dear wife’s, 70th birthday treat, paid for generously by ‘the children’ -a performance of Ondine. I cannot pretend to be an aficionado but even I enjoyed this performance of a relatively modern, as opposed to classical, ballet. It must have been enjoyable as I did not fall asleep! A dash for the train and home just after midnight. Another long day but one which I had managed to survive without too much fatigue.

The trip to Covent Garden reminded me of a time, in the late 60’s, when I was a development director of the English Property Company. It’s predecessor (Star GB) had taken over a company called Second Covent Garden, amongst its portfolio was the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (and indeed, I seem to recall, The Coliseum).

The exciting aspect of this, from our point of view, was that the original owner, the Duke of Bedford, had included, in the original design, a box for his own use which had its own door to the street. It was no ordinary box. You entered into a dining room/sitting room – I seem to remember that there was a marble fireplace with the Duke on Bedford’s crest on it. Here, we would dine in fine style, served by our own staff, finishing a coffee, as the overture struck up and we would transfer to the front box. In the Interval there would be petit fours and Champagne. Although only a minor director, every now and then my turn would come round to invite some clients and friends to join us. The box even had its own private loo – could it have been one of the original Thomas Crapper suites? Ah, for those 60’s again when the property world went crazy.

The story goes that the Duke (I’m not sure which one) lost the Opera House through gambling debts and was ultimately acquired by the Second Covent Garden Property Co. I gather that when the Opera House was refurbished the Duke of Bedford’s box was retained, roughly in the same position it now occupies two levels. The box at the lower level with the dining room and loo above. It still has its own exit to the street.



21 – 25 July 2009

Posted by DMC on 25 July 2009 in Diary |

Off to Bwlch Uchaf, our Welsh cottage for a week. We stopped en route, in Church Streeton with my mother and Richard, we fed and watered them and left after breakfast on the Tuesday morning. I must say apart from my mother’s early onset of Alzheimer’s, which is barely noticeable, for a couple of nonagenarian’s they both seemed in remarkably good form.

Wales greeted us with its usual mixture of rain, wind and sun – with more of the former than the latter – ensuring that my bathing costume stayed firmly in the drawer. Chloe and the grandchildren were staying at Granny’s house in Aberdovey, so there were many excursions to and fro. The joy of being a grandparent, however, is that one can always call it a day when things become too frenetic.

The highlights of this holiday were those intermittent periods with the family, walks, beach and games with for the children; an evening dinner excursion up the beautiful valley to the Tal-y-Lyn hotel, nestling alongside that large dark sinister lake, beloved of a local fisherman and the visitor alike.

Yesterday, ‘my lovely’ and I spent the day in Machynellth (having originally intended to go to the art exhibition, the National Library of Wales, in Aberystwyth but due to the car playing up prudently opted somewhere nearer home). We had a jolly time visiting the antique shops, where we bought a beautiful piece of Welsh porcelain; had lunch in the Wynnstay Arms Hotel (gone slightly downmarket since the Colonel used to take the family there for lunch, admittedly over 50 years ago, but then things tend to change rather slowly in Wales) and ended up viewing the latest art exhibition, at an offshoot of The Museum of Modern Art of Wales, next to the Tabernacle. Contemporary art generally is not to my taste but there were one or two exhibits I could have lived with.

After a week of relatively ‘nice’ weather, by Welsh standards, we set off back to Clavering, staying with the old folk in Church Streeton, on the way, following the now ‘ cast in concrete’ procedure. Champagne at six (I always arrive with two bottles — one for the upward journey and one for the return) and an early meal at a local pub.

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29 July 2009

Posted by DMC on 29 July 2009 in Diary |

My good friend Dr. Michael Long arrived today with daughter Kate for an overnight stay. It was lovely to see them and we enjoyed a pleasant lunch at the local pub the Axe & Compasses.

The important thing to come out of this visit was Michael’s total commitment to assisting me to go to China in October to give my lectures. As a result I have now made a provisional booking, with my travel agent, which I hope to be able to confirm on Monday.

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2 August 2009

Posted by DMC on 2 August 2009 in Diary |

After hearing from Michael, I was able to confirm the flights with the travel agent today for the trip to China and Thailand in October. I just hope I don’t deteriorate too much in the meantime as, at my age, it is almost impossible to get travel insurance at anything other than a ludicrously high premium and therefore I am at risk for the not insubstantial airfare, if, for any reason, I am unable to travel.

I very recently finished a fascinating look about China, given to me last Christmas by son Miles – it was a heavy book in both senses of the word, Jonathan Fenby’s History of Modern China –The Fall and Rise of a Great Power 1850 – 2008, published by Penguin. It took me a long time to read the 800 odd pages but it was well worth the effort and has given me an even better understanding of the functioning of modern China than I had even after my 10th visit.

I particularly liked Fenby’s description, towards the end of the book, of China’s system of government as one ‘of bureaucratic capitalism, underpinned by force and marked by exploitation, with little time for fostering human happiness in anything other than material terms, as the last major Leninist state, only with Chinese characteristics; as a nation whose impact is changing the world but which remains deeply unfathomable as it’s own rulers grapple with the problems of unprecedented size.’

China’s role, and that of India, on the world stage, in the 21st century, has exercised my imagination for some time. Consider this comparison of these two emerging giants:

China India
Population 1.6B 1.2B
Life Expectancy 71 68
Adult Reading 93% 60%
Infrastructure (per head off population?) $7 $1
Manufacturing Jobs 150M 10M

Under five-year-olds are twice as likely to die in India than in China.

“To get rich, first build a road” Chinese Proverb.

This information may not be entirely up-to-date but it does give a fascinating insight into these two emerging economies. The socialist market economy of China and the largest democracy in the world.

Unfortunately, for the life of me I cannot remember where I got this information from. Perhaps someone can identify it for me and I will attribute it in a subsequent version of this blog.

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5 August 2009

Posted by DMC on 5 August 2009 in Diary |

The die is cast. I took the plunge today and booked the flights for me and my good friend, Dr. Long to go to China and then onto Hua Hin, towards the end of October. This, despite my trepidation at the rate that my hands and arms are giving up. Two and a half months is a very long time with such an aggressive disease. However, the good doctor has made it quite clear that he is only too happy to be with me 24/7 on this trip and do whatever is necessary. Sobeit. I had been led to believe that it was virtually impossible for someone of my age and infirmity to get travel insurance at anything other than a ridiculously high premium. However I am pleased to report that I did find a company today to cover my forthcoming visit to China and Thailand for what I consider a very reasonable premium of £122 which also includes cover for anything arising from my MND or prostate cancer, which I had 10 years ago.

I spent most of the day preparing my talk for the memorial address in Dublin on the 18th September. The trouble is it cannot be entirely light-hearted and has to have some academic interest which means the preparation of a number of PowerPoint slides. Easy enough in the old days but now with weak hands, a laborious process.

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