As my future was somewhat uncertain, my more aware and steadfast wife decided we should have a post office and shop. After much searching, one became available in Suffolk and we bought it. The shop was very small, in a village with a population of about 150, situated between Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury.













The Post Office and General Store, Stansfield, Suffolk

 It had a conglomeration of goods and it amazed passing tourists who asked ‘Can you tell me where I can get a link for my broken cycle chain?’ when we said ‘Yes, how many do you want?’

As the new postmistress my wife’s clerical training was invaluable and she was a natural with the rustic type locals. On the very rare occasion we went away, I paid a retired postmaster to take charge but  our regular customers would not come to the shop while we were away because they did not want ‘strangers’ knowing their business.

Medically, I came under the care of the famous Addenbrookes Hospital and was improved enough to be of some assistance, in such tasks as the shop supplies. After 3 years and the business thriving, we were being pestered by a business agent who wanted us to sell. We did so, but had to leave urgently, so we bought a bungalow in the village as a stopgap [house number 15].

My wife had a brother living in Bedford and it seemed prudent to move there, leaving me still under the care of Addenbrookes Hospital. We stayed there for about 14 years and had two houses [numbers 16 and 17].

I did some consultancy work for the Bedfordshire County Council leading a team involved in the major road works on the M1 Motorway. We had CCTV cameras filming the movement of vehicles, which were having to manoeuvre through complicated chicane movements, 24 hours a day for a number of months. At the end of the contract I had to submit a report to the Road Research Authority at Bracknell.

After this I was asked to be a lecturer on behalf of a Bedford College for students who needed their academic standards improving.

We both played some golf on the very flat Bedfordshire golf course and were reasonably well, but the small garden was becoming irksome. My wife had both hips replaced, one of which was not done very well. Our early lives had been near the sea, and with Bedford being so far from it, she felt the need to return – but not to the cold North East. A 3 year search for a flat along the South Coast resulted in buying a superb one in Swanage.

It had views of Old Harry Rocks to the left, Durlston Downs to the right and the Isle of Wight straight across. A balcony with seagulls chasing each other like Spitfires, vapour trails from Bournemouth and Southampton airports, autumn visits by the paddle steamer Waverley and concerts on the Prince Albert Gardens – a stone’s throw away. We became ‘friends of the pier’ where we frequently walked with our ‘strolling passes’.





In order not to lose the property, I had to take out a bridging loan in May 1996. After which, there were the usual transaction difficulties in selling the Bedford house. During this period, we travelled down to Dorset now and then, sleeping on camp beds. On one occasion we were startled awake by a tremendous bang. It was the maroons going off, used at the time, to call in the volunteer crews for the lifeboat.












We did eventually take up proper residence in the December of 1996 and I was made welcome as a senior member of the local golf club, where I achieved my 3rd hole in one! My wife did a lot of voluntary work at Oxfam and Sue Ryder.

Swanage is a quaint town with a marvellous carnival, which includes having the Red Arrows, the lifeboat week, a folk festival period and a blues and jazz music weekend. The beach is marvellous for children and has a blue flag accreditation. The weather is sublime, to see snow was an event, and it never stayed very long because of the salt air. There is a theatre/cinema in the Mowlem Centre and with everything within walking distance; there was little need to go anywhere else. The Health Centre and Cottage Hospital catered for our medical needs with a major hospital at Poole, 20 miles away.

It was a pleasant time in our twilight years until 2007 when tragically my wife was diagnosed with having cancer and died. She passed peacefully away in the Cottage Hospital on pain-killing medication, listening to her favourite music, which the Sister allowed me to bring in.

We had her cremated and her ashes scattered to the wind and waves off her beloved pier, of which she would spend many hours gazing with unfocused eyes in her later months.

OMENS AGAIN. One day I awoke with my lips all swollen. On ringing my GP for an appointment, he rang me back and diagnosed me over the phone ending by saying ‘Stop taking the aspirin’. A week later, my tongue was swollen and again on ringing my GP he replies ‘Stop taking the statins’.

The following week, I had a number of blood blisters in my mouth. My GP was away and so I was seen by his locum.  He looked at my blisters, examined my legs and arranged for a blood sample. Three hours later I was in Poole Hospital with a blood platelet count of 2, whereas the normal level should be 150/200. A 6 inch needle was inserted into my hip bone to extract some bone marrow, and analysis proved that I was producing platelets correctly, but something was destroying them.

The medical term is Thrombocytopenia. The cause is unknown and there is no cure It causes bleeding, bruising, cataracts, muscle weakness and bone density loss and can be somewhat alleviated with high doses of steroids. I did have to go to hospital for a week with abdominal bleeding, my spleen was removed and I had both eyes treated for cataracts. My platelet count was very erratic and golf was out of the question.

After 4 years, I am now being tried on a newly-approved NICE drug that has reduced the bruising.

I have been told that even if I had a nose bleed, I would not be able to stop it and to call an ambulance immediately, so I have to keep a hospital bag always available. With a restricted lifestyle and a ‘bleeding Sword of Damocles’ hanging over me, it is a bit like ‘Waiting for Godot’.