Wednesday, 28 December 2011

RUSH



“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”
St John 19:34

THE WIND IS BOOMING TODAY. Here in my kitchen, the sounds made by the changes in pressure on the chimneys on top of the building are no less than those of a relentless hurricane passing over the Bermuda Islands at the end of summer. In my life, I have experienced a number of those.

I have just walked to the corner shop, about a hundred yards away. Getting there, with the wind at my back, I had to struggle so as not to be pushed forward on my face. Coming back, with my carton of milk and bottle of apple squash, I tried to get as close as possible to the walls on my right, pausing several times in doorways, then pushing ahead again, gasping for breath.

I have a memory of my grandfather, Henry Charles Christopher Eldridge, stored away in September of 1961. Charlie Eldridge was born on 26 July 1894, which happens to be the same day that the English novelist Aldous Huxley was born. In 1961, my grandfather and Huxley would have been about 67. My grandfather died in 1962, and Huxley in 1963 (on the same day that JFK was assassinated, so that Huxley’s passing went pretty much unnoticed in the media). Cancer. They both died of cancer.


The two novels I have read most often in my life, and love the most, are Aldous Huxley's "Island" and D.H. Lawrence's "Women in Love". Huxley and his wife were at Lawrence's bedside when he died of consumption back in 1930.

My memory of Charlie Eldridge, recorded in late summer of 1961, is of a tall man bent over by poor health. Charlie could not, and did not, walk too far. Not without sitting here and there to catch his breath. He had advanced lung cancer. So, we are in London walking along a street that seems to feature many antique shops. My grandmother and I had to keep stopping to allow my grandfather to catch up with us. It seems remarkable to me that he would have gone up to London with us, which would have involved an hour on a train and then buses. I am glad he did, because I have had the memory of it for 50 years now.

About the time my grandfather died, I began writing letters to family members who happened to be across the country or across an ocean sometimes. I corresponded with family at first, but as the 1960s rolled on, and I left school, I tended to keep in touch with friends. I suppose many of my elderly relatives were dead or dying by the 1970s.

I have always enjoyed writing. It has been almost a compulsion at times, making things real. I came to write a newspaper column for a few years, and then, in about 2008, I began blogging. My blog was “Barking Mad in Amble by the Sea”. I use the past tense, because I expect this will be the last entry there.

I am done with writing.

I have finished reporting, finished remarking, finished with the news. I have finished preaching. I am done with writing. All the words I ever had have gone out of me. Done.

A fortnight or so ago, I received the sort of Christmas present one really does not want. The diagnosis of cancer. I have skin cancer, which started in my right side, then moved into the lymphatic system, both lungs and other tissues. Funny, I celebrated 30 years since I last smoked a cigarette last August, and the disease is in my lungs, of all places.

What can I say? If you smoke, then quit. If you are young and are tempted to smoke, it is possibly the worst thing you could do with your life to smoke.

I have that memory of Charlie Eldridge, walking slowly along a pavement in Chelsea. It was a sunny day, not windy, unlike today, 50 years on.

Yes. All the words have gone out of me.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear your news. I am sorry the words are all gone. I hope the fight is not. I hope you will see many more christmases in Amble. Wishing you love and strength x

Brenda Lana Smith R af D said...

Ross...

My best thoughts are with you…

Thank you for your anecdote ridden blog… which I have enjoyed for many a year and will sorely miss—especially on matters Bermudian…

Sincerely…

Brenda…

http://tinyurl.com/yexxbcq

and...

http://tinyurl.com/yao3zog

Richard said...

Ross,

I didn't get a Christmas card from you so I had to come looking for you.

Very surprised to see this blog.

Please drop me a line, I'd like to communicate with you.

Hey, that's what long, long term friends are for.

Dick Waskin, remax@wmol.com

Daniel said...

will miss your writings, stories and humour Ross xx

Kathy said...

I read about Prince Harry dancing,making polite chatter, and tasting rum as he toured Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica. And I thought I should check in on Ross, who used to write about his past life in Southern climes. And I was very startled to come upon this last blog ... but I hope it's not the last words you'll write. So many of us have enjoyed your discourse and observations and ruminations. I've even gone to your street on virtual visits and peered around for your home.

And I've laughed at your stories - like the visit to the temple with the beautiful white cows.

I've never met you in person, but I think of Ross Eldridge as a friend, and I hope my friend will receive good medical care. Kathy in California

Sarah said...

Ross, my friend. I am so sorry to hear this news and hope you get care at the excellent medical facilities in England. I will miss your words, Sir, your sardonic humor, and deep insight.

I send you and young Cailean a nose bump of comraderie of writers and dog lovers. Namaste.

Sarah (and Alan)

Ruth D~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth D~ said...

Ross, Not great news to find here--an understatement, for sure.

I've written and deleted and written and deleted in the little space I am given for comments... because what can I say? I want to bring comfort, but how?

I wish for you comfort, peace, the knowledge that you're loved...

Anonymous said...

I am new to this site but as a Bermudian and Warwick Academy alumna I have been intrigued and entertained by Ross Eldridge's writings. After his last post, I was curious about his current condition. Unfortunately, it is with sadness that I post the following notice from The Journal, Amble, Northumberland (UK).

Eldridge Christopher Ross
Date of Death: 20th February 2012
Date 1st Published: 23rd February 2012
ELDRIDGE (Amble). Formerly of Bermuda. Peacefully in hospital on 20th February, aged 62 years, Christopher Ross. Will be sadly missed by family and friends. Please meet for Funeral Service and cremation at Cowpen Crematorium on Monday 27th February at 1.30pm.

Mervyn Darrell
Madrid, Spain

Brenda Lana Smith R af D said...

R.I.P. Ross...

Elmer Midgett said...

7erASeven months later and I still can't believe he's dead. Ross used to say he would die at 32 and for many years we joked that he was wrong about THAT!
He was the best friend I have ever had. I miss him daily.

Brenda Lana Smith R af D said...

(((((((Elmer Midgett)))))))

suz said...

love you, my bolphie. i hated to take down last year's calendar, your last gift to me. but your blog is still here, so i can still revisit, from time to time, your beautiful writing. i'll always miss you.
khairete
suz

Anonymous said...

I just found this blog and was saddened to read of Ross's death. I justed returned from Bermuda a week ago exploring my fathers birth place. I noted that Ross's father and his grandfather both worked in some capacity at the NAAFI Canteen around 1940. My grandfather (Charles Henry Hick) worked in the same canteen during this same time. I was hoping that I would be able to contact Ross and see if our relatives were known to each other and if there was any documentation or pictures from that time. If anyone has a contact informaton for any of Ross's children or siblings it would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
Kevin Hick, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Kevin.Hick@nshealth.ca or hickkc@gmail.com