Jeremy Clarke

Jeremy Clarke

How to make the perfect fry-up

Catriona went to England and Scotland for ten days. The last thing she said to the lean and slippered pantaloon as he stood on the doorstep to wave her off was: ‘Please eat healthily, darling.’ Pretty much the first thing I did after I’d watched her disappear down the path and rubbed my hands together

I dropped a morphine capsule in my Moscow Mule

A dear friend came to stay for two nights. Could I be persuaded, wondered he and Catriona, on the first morning, to venture out to a restaurant for lunch? Descending the stairs to welcome guests these days takes a bit of effort. Bare feet, boney ankles, flapping pyjama bottoms; the guests look up in fascinated

My week alone in a mess of morphine foils

After commuting to Marseille for nine days of radiotherapy, I spent the week alone in the cave, in bed, in a mess of morphine foils and empty coffee cups. Sister Catriona was in the UK overseeing the birth of her first granddaughter. Friends and neighbours kindly kept me supplied with staples. Every day the sun

O frabjous day! My new tumour is just my old prostate friend

The day British media commentators were christening Rishi’s coronation as Britain’s ‘Obama moment’, French ones were calling the particularly horrible murder of a 12- year-old French girl by an Algerian woman staying in the country illegally as France’s ‘Floyd moment’. Gilles turned his phone to ‘landscape’ and we watched the TV coverage as we sped

My grandsons have sensed weakness – and it’s costing me

The grandsons are putting two and two together. Grandad is always lying down and groaning when they video call and he has suddenly become a soft touch when asked to stump up for their material acquisitiveness. ‘By the way, Grandad, can I have the new Liverpool away kit? With Mo Salah on the back?’ ‘You

The 100-year-old opiate had lost none of its potency

Our neighbour Michael is a keen and knowledgable attender of vides-greniers, the equivalent of our car-boot sales. His focus is on old bottles, full or empty, and old china, but he’ll pick up anything that piques his fancy. Some months ago, for example, he bought for €1 a glass tube of opium tablets issued to

My battle with an ant

At eight o’clock in the morning a nurse injected me with a radioactive marker and told me to go away and amuse myself for three hours. The metal chairs in the waiting room were uncomfortable and there was nothing to rest my head against. So I wandered outside the 19-storey hospital to look for somewhere

The joy of morphine sulphate

Two football friends, brothers, Mick and Pete, came to visit last week. We’ve been going to matches together since 1969, aged 12, in the good old skinhead days when the police enjoyed a punch-up as much as anybody. We used to travel all over the country on Lacey’s Coaches for away games and looked up

My three-night retreat with the nuns

We were four round the little table in the nunnery kitchen: a 90-year-old German lady and her man; a nun called Sister Mary of the Angels; and me. We had just come in from the early morning mass. The German lady’s man was a Spaniard of about 35. It was impossible to tell but interesting

I had underestimated France’s affection for our monarch

The end that we knew must come eventually, the end we dreaded so much that we could barely think about it, was signalled by a momentously upraised forefinger, diverting our attention to an announcement on the French radio news station. The announcement was in English, live from Balmoral castle. ‘Following further evaluation this morning, the

When the bone pain gets bad, my inner NCO keeps me in check

In Frederic Manning’s classic Great War novel, The Middle Parts of Fortune, the shattered battalion shambles out of the line after battle to parade briefly before being dismissed. Noting a general loss of soldierly comportment as the infantrymen limp into camp, a watching NCO urges: ‘Come on, get hold of it now.’ As my bone

The intense heat is gone and so are the grandsons

Finally rain. None for months, then a violent tropical storm lasting two days. It marked the end of high summer as clearly and distinctly as a clarion of trumpets. Afterwards the nights were cooler and the sun less fierce and it was easier to maintain one’s temper. We could begin to look forward again instead

My evening as a rapacious capitalist

An isolated Provençal stone farmhouse from the outside; from the inside a comfortable English country house. Sunk into the garrigue a short distance away is an impossibly blue infinity swimming pool. My two grandsons came here direct from their tiny house in Basingstoke. Catriona was fortuitously asked to house-sit for ten days. I’m the wounded

How I found perfect happiness

The view from the upstairs window was of other large and secluded houses perched on other still-green Surrey Hills. I spent six days here. Every day the owner would go to London leaving me alone with two rare and valuable prick-eared, six-toed house cats called Tio and Luna. The only instructions I was under concerned

Don’t bring me sunshine: a week in the Surrey hills

I’m staying for a week in an 1850s house in the Surrey hills that looks-wise might have been built for the suburban 1920s. I came last night. ‘Sorry about the rain,’ said the UK Border Force lady. ‘Rain is exactly what I was hoping for,’ I said. This morning the owner went to work, leaving

I’ve been bitten by the TikTok bug

In theory TikTok knows nothing about me. I have posted two videos: one of my grandsons kicking a football in a garden, the other of their much younger selves running through the dry desert house at Paignton zoo. They are the most unremarkable clips imaginable. The last time I looked, the football being kicked in

The global elite and me

Here come the global elites. They love it here. Their spiritual second home. The heat, the rosé, the food, the service, the quaint and deserted villages. One way and another I get to meet some of them. Catriona manages holiday villas and those renters she likes she asks up to our place for a drink.

The power of prayerful washing-up

My days pass largely in a state of inanition. The fit and able-bodied express their sympathy, claiming it’s much the same for them. ‘How are you?’ ‘I’m sleeping all the time.’ ‘Oh, but so are we in this terrible heat!’ Meanwhile the young get browner and more beautiful every day while going on with their

The joy of a children’s choir

All afternoon I had been horizontal next to an electric fan, sometimes sleeping, sometimes awake and sometimes halfway between those two states. By six o’clock the temperature had relented from 38 degrees to a comparatively easier 27 and I heard ice cubes tinkling into a glass. Catriona called up the stairs, offering gin. I said

A journey backwards through my journals

I’m looking backwards: old journals, old photographs, old notebooks. What strikes me above all is the vigour and energy I once took for granted. The following little descriptions I found in the same pocketbook. The first is an oddity because I have absolutely no recollection of the action being reported. It can’t be fiction or