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17 December 2003

Life is very full just now, very occupied with things. I've spent today in a final giddy whirl of term's-end tutorials, while my head is in a giddy whirl of its own brought on by the university cold, which I was incubating last week and of which I am now official custodian. A fine healthy academic cold it is, full of aches and mucus, and should be enough on its own for any one man to deal with; I should be reposing palely (and damply) on my couch with my beloved cat for comfort and the Chalet School books of Eleanor M Brent-Dyer, my constant indulgence in times of sickness. But as I say, I have been teaching; and every break I had, I was stealing what time I could to write, because I have to read a Bram Stoker pastiche at tomorrow's final Dracula class and it wasn't finished yet. And all the time I was doing that, I have been unremittingly aware of how I need to shop tomorrow (Wednesday) in order to cook on Thursday, in order to feed an entire hospital's anaesthetic dept on Friday with a rather fabulous menu (recipes will be going up in the (Cooking With Chaz section afterwards, assuming it's not all a catastrophe).

And all of all this time, all this busyness has not for a moment deflected me from feeling that I ought not to be here, I should be down in London for the funeral of a friend. I can't go, I have simply promised too many things to too many people, I have contractual and ethical commitments that I cannot break - and I still feel miserable, and want to fling myself onto the milk-train in the morning just to be there. And I'm really not sure why, what the tug of the funeral actually is. The departed doesn't know who's there and who's not, funerals are for the living; it's not a social duty, with black marks recorded for absence; it's not a last-chance-to-say-goodbye, that's either gone already or else can be revisited at a graveside later, depending on whether or not one looks for a reply. It's not the sense of theatre, which is generally muted; it's seldom for the music (tho' this one might be an exception, and my own certainly will); it's not really for the company this time, at least, because I would know few people there. It's certainly not for the novelty, I've been to too damn many. So why, what's the appeal, what's the call? Genuinely, I don't know, and so go baffled to bed, with my thoughts on flights of angels. Night-night.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.