Thursday, 29 March 2012

Going Gracefully

Thursday 29th March 2012

To the Royal Academy early, to hand in two small paintings for the Royal Academy Summer Show. I haven’t had anything accepted since 2000, just D notices since then, but hope springs eternal doesn’t it – at least in me.
Mooched about a bit afterwards in this delinquent Spring sunshine which is so unexpected. Bought some delectable cheese in Paxton’s and some rose creams in Fortnum’s, to give out at Easter.
I had a sandwich in the café attached to St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, had a look inside and saw there was an exhibition going on called, A Graceful Death.
It’s not the death that’s the problem, for me it’s the lead up to it. I usually avoid all reminders of this horrible prospect, but I was attracted by the portrait of a dying man on the poster.
Antonia Rolls painted her husband Steve while he was dying of liver cancer, and there were paintings of a few other people who had allowed her to paint them at the end of their lives, including one old cat.

It was a poignant show. In the visitor’s book someone called Sogyai Riaponche had written rather desperately:
“Moment to moment I live with the possibility of imminent death.”
I wondered if she was a tourist, going round in big trainers, trying to take her mind off things by looking at London. Some hope.

Many people like to say glibly, “We all die. I might get hit by a bus tomorrow. It could happen any time,” but they don’t really know what the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness is like, anymore than they know what it’s like to sit on death-row.

When will it come, how will it be?
I’m stuffing in veg, drinking green tea,
Sitting in the sun, grabbing Vitamin D.
Listening to the wireless all night,
Sleepless, as if waiting for news of war.
Tell me, how long now, it's almost a bore,
Like some long expected catastrophe.


  1. That's a nice little poem at the end of the piece. It contains seriously good advice for anyone living with cancer.

  2. Thank you for your comment! It is tricky publishing any poetry. Could be embarrassing. And thank you for going on reading my blog.