William Brodrick – The Discourtesy of Death (2013). It is probably unfair to describe this as cosy crime because it ventures beyond the fun of ‘guess the murderer’ and enters the deep moral question of assisted suicide and the sanctity of life. This is the fifth book featuring Father Anselm. British born William Brodrick (1960), in a career change that reverses Father Anselm's, was an Augustinian friar before leaving in order to become a practising barrister. I shall certainly be seeking out ‘The Sixth Lamentation’, the first Father Anselm book, and following the series through.
These quotes may seem like spoilers but they aren’t -
“I cannot walk. I have cancer. I am going to die.
I’ve decided to stay at home.
I won’t have all those tubes and medicines.
I won’t have different nurses holding my hand.
I won’t be on the agenda when the night shift go home and the day shift turn up.
I might be alone.
It could be painful.
I’ll be very frightened. I’m frightened already.
I might hang around on the edge of living, held down by this body of mine that doesn’t work.
Things couldn’t be much worse.
You gave me the strength to write those words. You taught me not to be ashamed of saying that things are bad and awful, when they are. You said there’s a liberty in all honesty. You said, by the same token, that I should never give up on surprises. Well, as the end nears, I thought we might talk about that.”
“I don’t think anyone murdered Jenny – in the sense of killed her against her will. If it wasn’t X then it was someone who loved her. They’d faced the one fact that you can’t face – that sometimes life is hopeless. That too often there are no last minute surprises. This is the real world, Anselm.”
A rich, heavy smell that could only be called brown.
(And finally some words that are truly meaningful for anyone who has lost a child – of whatever age) -
Anselm thought that the glory of life – even brief and trimmed down to the point of seeming insignificance – remained utterly breath-taking. That death, with all its power, would always be the one who came afterwards. The latecomer who’d missed the party.
‘You came and you went so quickly,” he said. “But I saw your flight and I’ll remember you.”
A Blue Tit pays a visit
On Wednesday Partner-who-loves-tea and I got home from having a coffee at Aroma in Irby and as I walked upstairs I heard a fluttering noise – like a Hawkmoth trying to get out of the window. But it wasn’t a Hawkmoth – it was a Blue Tit. The window he was fluttering against is on the half-landing of the stairs and reaches to the top of the house – it’s about fifteen feet tall. I had a brief vision of combining ladders and footstools and Heaven knows what. Fortunately the Blue Tit had other ideas and stayed fluttering against the bottom pane and was relatively easy to catch. A tiny head poking out of my not-too-clenched fists and taking occasional pecks at my finger. P-w-l-t opened the front door and then reached for the camera but the Blue Tit decided the smell of green freedom was too string and began struggling so much I had to let him go, zipping across the garden and into the hedge like a bullet. We still haven’t fathomed which window the silly creature decided to investigate – there were none open more than an inch or so. It seemed a lovely story with a happy ending until I woke up in the middle of the night with inflamed fingers. Surely a Blue Tit’s tiny peck couldn't have done that. No. When I investigated I realised that in the capturing the bird in the corner of the window I had brushed against the cacti. I’m still picking out almost invisible thorns but it was worth it to hold that tiny life in my hands, however briefly.
I decided to put one of my Blue Tit pictures in this post but when I put Tit into my computer’s ‘Search’ facility in the bottom left corner instead of looking for the word Tit it opened Chess Titans and asked me what level I wanted to play at? There should be a special exclamation mark to follow the word Computers!