Saturday, 1 December 2018

Meeting Sylvia

Two days ago, I had a meeting at the Holborn office of the company I work for, staying at a hotel in Stratford.  Ann came with me, to meet up with a friend she has not seen for some time. Sylvia is tiny, but a wonderful, vivacious lady who came into our lives when she was tutoring Edwin for his A-levels. She habitually dresses in black, and is even more intolerant of gluten than Ann. Food allergies are serious, and she is wise to take them seriously for there have been several incidents recently of people dying from incorrect labeling. We met for lunch in Jamie's, where she quizzed the waiter at length to make sure the pasta really was as gluten free as it boasted on the menu.
Ann and Sylvia meet in Jamie's, Stratford
Her son-in-law has cancer of the face, discovered by chance by the dentist who noticed a small ulcer. He had to have the side of his face, one eye, and some of his jaw excised. He is now having radiotherapy to the area, and will have to go into hospital to be tube fed during the last treatments, as he will be unable to swallow. Sylvia is struggling to support her daughter and grandson through it all. It rather puts my radiotherapy into perspective; the worst I anticipate having is being unable to wee.

Going home, there had been an accident on the M11 which was closed below Stansted. The information suggested it wouldn't be cleared for two hours, and the queues were unbelievable as everyone tried to divert off at the M25. We attempted an alternative route, but it took over four hours for a journey of normally one hour. I especially feel sorry for those trying to catch a flight out of Stansted, or a train from London. How can one person's thoughtless stupidity cause so much havoc to so many tens of thousands of people?  One blessing of autonomous cars should be a freedom from this type of accident. I do not even know if the driver lived, but when they do, those drivers who cause major delays through their selfishness should be automatically imprisoned.

I am listening to Schubert's string quartet No. 14 as I write this, the Andante con moto section of "Death and the Maiden". The tonal changes are breathtakingly moving, and lift one to another dimension. How can one person bring such wonder into the world? This too seems to put our problems into perspective.

Most of us achieve so little with the lives we have, whereas one person can change the lives of thousands, for ill or good. For most of us, the changes we make in the world are tiny, but whether we strive to bring poison or platter to the world is a choice we must all make.