I was going through my address book recently and I was struck by how many people I know; not close friends but people who you have a drink with and bump into. These people will all start dying over the next twenty years or so and at some point about twenty five years from now it will be like a war zone with them falling like flies. The question that occurred to me was at what point do you stop going to funerals? Where do you draw the line (unless your social life is funerals) if you want to get on with the remaining years of your life?

I remember watching the Cruel Sea, a war film about the Atlantic convoys with my parents-in-law – both of whom were participants in the war. There is a scene where a brother and his friend who is engaged to the sister are told in the most matter-of-fact way that she has been killed in an air-raid. They take the news phlegmatically with no drama or emotion – and I commented on this to my parents-in-law saying that nowadays we would be so much more emotional. They held the opposite view and said that it only takes a few days and then everyone would take death in their stride – and become as cool about it as in the film. I’m sure they are right.

Maybe that answers my question. When it happens, you will have to decide how much you want death to dominate your life. That it will, to some extent, is inevitable.  Maybe you might want to base yourself somewhere inaccessible – a sailing boat could be ideal – where your presence will be excused. Or maybe you just toughen up, raise a glass to the fallen comrade and make whoopy while you can.

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