Yesterday our main engagement was lunch with my 92-year old godfather and family at their home in a suburb of Perth. I hadn’t visited it in forty-four years but the extraordinary thing is – even though I barely remembered it – you could tell, just by being there, that it hadn’t changed much since 1970, indeed probably since about 1870, or whenever after that it was first built. It was decked out like a perfectly-preserved, studiously clean and fresh, well-to-do English house from the late Victorian/early Edwardian era.
We had great fun catching up – and going forward – during our five-hour stay. My godfather, a medical and academic man, is right on the ball, although his voice has become somewhat frailer than when we last met in the UK. My father remarked afterwards that he found it staggering and amazing that the two of them met up, shook hands, and carried on their conversation almost as if their last one had been a week, not a decade, ago.
It’s the following morning now (Wednesday) and we’ve just had breakfast and come to our rooms to pack and prepare to check out of our hotel. We don’t actually fly until 5.30pm this evening, so we’ll be hanging around for a few hours either side of a spot of lunch.
Funnily enough, at breakfast, we got talking about cigarettes and alcohol – only because my father and godfather had talked on the subject, including the giving up of either or both. My father then told me a story that I hadn’t heard before (or which, if I had heard it before, I did not remember that I had).
He went to see his uncle and senior partner one day and announced proudly that he had given up smoking.
“How many were you smoking a day?” asked his uncle.
“Forty” replied my father.
“That’s interesting …” responded his uncle, “… I also stopped when I was smoking forty a day …” [there followed a slight pause] “… Mind you, they were other peoples’!”