Six days in London, and now flying out to visit our daughter in Tuscany. So far it’s been hell. Life, the old saw goes, is what happens when you’ve made other plans.

Main problem: my foot. My fault in choosing the wrong shoes. After the third day, I’m walking in pain: the left toe joint so swollen I can barely get on my shoe. Still, I managed two museums, saw roomsful of Turner and Rembrandt, and finally got interested in the Impressionists. Saw one play—beautifully acted, cleverly written, utterly despicable. Despite wild applause, I couldn’t help feeling we all left the theatre as lesser human beings than when we walked in. And a pretty-good film. The one thing I wanted to see, a new work by Complicite, I had to bail on, due to lameness and next day’s prospects of limping around an airport. This was wise.

Other problem: the hostel, the worst I’ve ever been in my long and checkered career. Two small bathrooms for about 50 people, no common room or kitchen, no place to sit and write, and while one takes one’s chances in a room of six sleepers, there must be an Olympic qualifying event for competitive snoring. Top honors goes to a portly man speaking Russian or Ukrainian—one of those languages with lots of POOTS and RASTS and NIKS—who, after diddling his tweets, launched into a nonstop cross between Steve Reich and Wagner for hours, until suddenly reaching a climax, like bombing himself, and then silence.

Second honors go to the farter in the bunk above me last night. It took a bit of time (but I had all night) to distinguish his farts from the bed-squawk whenever someone turned over, but I became skilled at making the distinction. Most notable was one so long and plaintive that you wondered what might come at the end.

The hostel rooms were above a pub, and I treated myself to many pints of Guinness. On arrival in London I was so fagged-out from an overnight flight and finding the hostel that for supper I ate one of the pub’s much-vaunted burgers, whose meat must have been from a horse too old to boil for glue. My punishment for being a carnivore.

I didn’t get much writing done: no place to write. But I did finish a chapter of my new novel, surreal fantasy, and gave my hero a crushed foot to drag through his days, as I drag mine, like whimpering roadkill.

And much looking forward to days with my daughter and her guy, and hopefully healing. At age 81, you gotta be philosophical.


I continue my trip to Hell. My London jaunt was total disaster. Then a lovely six days in Tuscany with my daughter, good food, talk, and a trip to the shoe store for sandals that don’t squeeze, then back to London for a day and flying home. In celebration, we went to the ocean to picnic, and Hell came on for an encore.

Putting the picnic basket in the back seat, I blacked out and collapsed. Elizabeth saw me flat on the asphalt, called 911, and I entered the throes of Santa Rosa Memorial, where sleep is a thing of the past. Five days of tests and pills to find what happened. Brain bleed, but small and stopped. Only current symptom is a very slow, weak right leg. The plan is to transfer me to a physical-therapy facility, but WHEN seems to be a volleyball. Nothing happens on Sunday except I write this and try to dump.

I’ve had many stays in hospitals: people do try to keep me alive, for whatever purpose. In high school I had a hernia operation. In 1975, two weeks of diagnosis and another week for an insulinoma operation. In the reachable past, open-heart surgery. I could write up reviews for Tripadvisor. So I’m grateful, though ungodly bored. There’s a free TV, though that’s like being in bed with a jibbering idiot.

So I’m doing a fair amount of reading: DON QUIXOTE, which seems to be the source of all conspiracy theories—every encounter with reality blamed on enchanters (a.k.a. the Deep State). And a book my daughter loaned me, the diary of a German Jewish prof through the Hitler years—something that prevents me from feeling too sorry for myself.

And working on a novella based on a play we wrote and produced many years ago. It proceeds at about a sentence per hour. This is not the most pleasant working environment, yet a pretty good excuse for not working.

Elizabeth reports the cats are unsettled.


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