Living, as Clive James put it, under a life sentence, and having refused chemotherapy, I find I respond to the time issue in contradictory ways. On the one hand, I read avidly, almost as if I’ll be tested at some later date. I am morbidly well-informed on current affairs, the status of the old white male and the situation in Ukraine. I crawl through Lucretius and Horace in search of wisdom. On the other hand, I avoid my favourite filmic masterworks (Chinatown, On the Waterfront, The Remains of the Day, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning) in favour of Secret Army, The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre
and any 1950s thriller that features frequent chases to some Tudoresque Surrey cottage. In other words, everything that is unreal, out of reach, leaving no trace and comfortably mediocre.