MONDAY 3rd MAY 1971


   8.18pm. Our dear little dog is no more. What sorrow fills our hearts tonight. No words can express our grief.

   I put my head against the door last night to see if I could hear Kim breathing. I did not want to disturb him. There was not a sound. I woke with a heavy heart this morning at 5.30am, and listened again at the door but there was no sound that I could hear. I went off to the office to sort out Saturday’s letters, leaving Freda in bed, and when I returned at 6.45am I hardly dared open the back room door. Dear Lord, how I prayed that we might find Kim peacefully at rest.

   I opened the door and for what seemed an age I could not see him. His basket was empty. Then I saw poor dear Kim lying upright by the cupboard, his head propped against my slipper, and my heart sank. He was so weak that he could scarcely look round to see me. Freda came down and the dear animal recognised her and wagged his tail. Freda gave him some meat and he ate some of it, then he had a saucer of the weak tea he loved so much, and drank it all. Freda carried him into the garden, still wearing her dressing gown, and carried him indoors again.

   He was so weak. I knew, and had known from yesterday morning, that I could not escape the responsibility of having Kim put to sleep. We did not want to prolong the suffering until 3.00pm. I said I would ’phone the vet and ask Mr Janes to come personally. I put my coat on and Kim looked up at me, his ears pricked and his tail wagging. I went broken-hearted to the office and somehow contrived to work normally. Freda told me tonight that during this time she took Kim out into the garden again and he drank some of the birds’ water.

   I ’phoned the vet at 8.30am and spoke to a young man who said that Mr Janes did not come out personally in such cases, but would I ring again at 9.00am. When I did so I was told that Mr Janes was performing a Caesarean section and could not be disturbed, but he would put him to sleep if we would bring him in. The appointment was for 10.20am. I told Freda I would return for 10.10. I ’phoned Mrs Buxton, somehow managing a semblance of normality, and finished dealing with the letters.

   When it came time to take our dear little dog away for the last time, he was so weak that Freda had the greatest difficulty in picking him up. Then little Andrew Matthews was on the doorstep as we came out, and a neighbour, Mr Taylor, spoke to us as we carried him Kim out to the car. Freda placed him on the back seat and sat beside him. I drove the wrong way to the vets’, Stratford Road instead of Warwick Road, but we were there on time. There were other dogs in the waiting room and Kim craned his neck from where he was lying in Freda’s arms, but there was no protest from him. We talked to a man whose pathetic-looking Corgi was being kept alive by the heart tablets he had been given for two years, and we quietly thanked the Lord in our hearts that Kim had been so robust to the end.

   At nearly 10.30am Mr Janes caught sight of me and beckoned us into the surgery. A little fur was clipped from Kim’s paw, and the needle inserted. For a moment he struggled — the needle had hurt him — and then he was gone, his eyes glazed over and I laid him down and stroked him and committed him to the Lord. It was all over so quickly. Mr Janes kindly and sympathetically ushered us into the office, Freda wrote a cheque for £2, and then we were on our way back to Freda’s mother’s, stunned but composed, and above all relieved.

   It was a most glorious day, even better and warmer than yesterday. Mum and Joe gave us coffee and biscuits, our first meal of the day, and we decided to have lunch with them and to go out this afternoon. But first we had to return to our so-empty house and to a thousand-and-one reminders of the precious little dog whom we loved so much. I went back to the office to do up the letters. I had already told the girls to have the rest of the day off. Janet, whose birthday it was, was about to go home. Jean stayed to answer the second post and to eat her sandwiches.

   At 12.45pm we got into the car to go to Meadow Grove. Freda suddenly remembered some potatoes we were supposed to be taking. I came back indoors to pick them up, and gingerly opened the backroom door in case Kim should be lying up against it.

   We had a nice lunch and I washed up, then took us in the car to Broadway. Freda had the idea to buy a shrub or tree to plant in memory of Kim. We found a shop in Broadway with a good selection and chose a yellow broom (Cytisus). Freda’s mother asked if she might buy it for us. As I carried it from the shop the tears coursed down my cheeks. It was such a warm day; I was in my shirt-sleeves. We drove on to Stow-on-the-Wold and had a cream tea there, then came home, dropping Mum and Joe off at Meadow Grove at ten past seven. Once home, we planted the broom at the bottom of the garden, beside the bird-bath, where we can see it from the house. We cried again, but stayed in the garden looking at all our plants and watering them, then we came indoors and cried some more.


FRIDAY 16th JULY 1071

I play football for England

   10.09pm. I was awakened last night by a spectacular display of lightning over the mountains, and got out of bed to close our door on to the balcony and to draw the curtains, but apart from a clap of thunder the storm never came. The heat has been oppressive all day and the clouds have gathered again this evening, but the expected storm has still not come.

   This morning the sky was overcast and rain threatened, so we stayed on the beach in the vicinity of the hotel. I took a number of photographs of the family in unguarded moments and of the game of pétanque which was in progress and refereed by our German friend from last year who also refereed the table-tennis. Freda and I walked down the beach for a swim and were later joined by Dad. I was trying to conserve my energy for the football match but swam hard to capture someone’s beach ball. However it eluded my grasp and was soon swept away by a strong current and wind.

   Over lunch we were entertained by a man on a piano-accordion. Afterwards we sat by the pool, then rested for an hour before the football match. When we came down later there were two letters from Jean, and one from Mum and Joe. Two coaches left at about 3.45pm to take players and spectators to the match, which was to be played in the stadium at Sta. Margarita, 9km away and an interesting journey through the local countryside.

   The England side, for which I turned out at outside-left, was in white shirts, and we kicked off at 4.30pm. I last played football (in the Solihull 1st Division) in about 1955, and was the oldest man on the field. The heat was gruelling. We were soon two goals down but were the better side and led by 4–2 at half-time when there were drinks for all present, included in the 40 pesetas charge So far it had been a good hard-fought game, and the spectators had enjoyed it. Some of the youths on our side had bawled at the German referee, who had sent one of them off after five minutes. However, when the referee turned out for France in the second half, and our opponents scored two goals, control of the game was completely lost and it had to be abandoned.

   At dinner Bon Apetito tactfully refrained from giving the score.

   What is amazing is that I dreamt the whole game through several months ago, and told Freda the next morning. Incredibly, I did after all play outside-left for England.


An unusual attack of modesty precluded my identifying the England captain


The football pitch in Majorca did not have the world’s best grass!

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webwork by Jim Nagel at Abbey Press, Glastonbury — this edition published 2007-06-30