I try to avoid the blues when talking about all this, but if you want to know one of the most sour reflections that I have when I think that I’m 61 now and I might not make 65 – I quite easily might not – one of the bitter aspects of that is, well, I put in 60 years at the coal face, I work very hard.
In the last few years I’ve got a fair amount of recognition for it, in my opinion actually rather more than I deserve, certainly more than I expected, and I could have looked forward to a few years of, shall we say, cruising speed, you know, just as we’re relishing that, enjoying it. Not ceasing to work, not resting on the laurels but savouring it a bit.
And that, I was just getting ready for that in fact, and I was hit right at the top of my form, right in the middle of a successful book tour.
I’m not going to get there and that does upset me. So that’s how I demarcate it from immortality.
Similarly I’m not going to see my grandchildren, almost certainly not. One has children with the expectation of dying before them, in fact, you want to make damn sure you die before them.
Just as you plant a tree, build a house knowing, hoping that it will outlive you, that’s how the human species has done as well as it has…
But the thought of mortality, in other words of being outlived, is fine when it’s your children, your books or your trees. It doesn’t reconcile you to an early death.