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Chris Slatter

My Blog


The View from Here

Rune of the Day: Nauthiz, hard lessons
I’ve never worried about my age, not until recently anyway. I sailed past all the watershed moments blissfully unaware that, for many people, it was extremely stressful to turn forty, or fifty, or sixty. To me these were like motorway signs: ‘You have just passed 50 years. Think of adjusting your diet.’ These milestones are just something to acknowledge as they dwindle in your rear view mirror. That was the case anyway, until I returned to London.
One of the first things you do when settling in a new country is find a doctor. Dutifully, I registered at my local surgery and forgot about it. I’m not a sickly person, in general, and since I gave up smoking three years ago my visits to the doctor have been rare. What I didn’t know was that once you turn 65 the medical profession won’t let you stay away. I’d been in Richmond no more than a week when the phone rang and I was invited by an extremely nice medical worker to attend an assessment session. On attending and undergoing a battery of tests, it turned out my cholesterol was too high, my blood pressure was up and my bones were too thin. Nobody had bothered to tell me about these shortcomings before. I was duly prescribed various pills and told to report back. I began to feel worse than I had ever felt before. Was this the anti- placebo effect perhaps? Does the very act of taking medicines weaken your body? Maybe so, but when I googled the medicines I discovered another possible reason: a list of side effects that would turn your hair white and, yes, I’m aware of the irony. So I binned the pills.
In the following months the medical workers and I played a cat and mouse game in which I attended the doctor’s surgery every week for tests. My bones were still too thin, though improving; my blood pressure was too high, and fluctuating and cholesterol levels, as ever, were insupportable. In short, I was clinging to life by a thread, even though I felt fine. I was questioned closely on a number of occasions and blood was drawn by the armful without getting to the bottom of this paradox. It wasn’t as if I could avoid the attention because they telephoned every week to make another appointment. The medical workers, concern for my parlous state written all over their faces, puzzled over me. With hindsight, I believe their aim was to collectivise me so I would join one of their clinics and thus be treated efficiently due to economies of scale. But I had no wish to become one of those who spend their lives in hospital queues trying to stay alive. It was a depressing thought. What could I do, I asked myself? The actor Tom Hanks had the answer: get your weight down to as close to college level as you can, exercise daily and give yourself challenging projects. So I’ve started. I’ll report back in due course, God willing.
One of the challenging projects I’ve given myself is to write several books. This was actuallysomething I set myself on my 65th birthday nearly three years ago. So far I have three with a fourth on the way. I have plans for a fifth, six and seventh which are plotted, but not researched. The first three were ebooks, but last week I received my first consignment of paperbacks, fifty of them, which I’d had printed by CreateSpace. When you receive boxes of books you confront one of the great fears of self-publishing authors: how the hell am I going to sell these! But I’m in good company; no less a writer than John Grisham drove up and down the southern states with boxes of books in the boot of his car. Whenever he had a case which required him to visit a new town, he would persuade the local bookshop to take a few copies of his book, ‘A Time to Kill’. I hope the strategy works for me.
The Richmond Literature Festival is on at the moment and we’ve attended a few talks. Max Hastings gave a good one to promote his new book ‘Catastrophe’, speaking fluently for an hour on the First World War. Bamber Gascoigne was seated in the front row, splendidly whimsical with an arresting scarf. He still has the voice – ‘now fingers on buzzers, here’s your starter for ten’ – but not the rest of the package. But he clings to youth in spite of his 78 years. He recently held a fireside chat with Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame. We were part of the audience then, too and were entranced by these two establishment figures who have shrugged off the years – Julian not so many as Bamber – so elegantly.
Please God, let me do the same.


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About Me

I have been an advertising copywriter, film director, teacher of screenwriting and a television producer. I have worked for some of the world's largest advertising agencies in Australia and the UK before attending the London Film School for two years.

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