I'm off shortly to Eltham, for the funeral of Colin, my first cousin Mary's partner for many years. I heard yesterday too of the death of my father's redoubtable secretary, Mrs Gladys Moore aged just short of 101. Mrs Moore had remarkable gifts, and one of her great achievements was her retirement during which (a widow) she travelled incessantly on coaches and trains.
There is a clutch of interesting birthdays today: Hans Christian Andersen, Casanova and Emile Zola. People such as Charles Dickens, used to dread Hans Christian Andersen coming to stay, because he was a terrible bore and once installed in the spare bedroom would show no sign of leaving. Many of his stories are cruel, sad and frightening, but The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor's New Clothes, Thumbelina, and The Ugly Duckling remain world-beaters, immortalised by Danny Kaye in that Hollywood musical. Emile Zola, the French 19th century novelist was inspired by Charles Darwin to write long inter-related sagas of an extended family's life. A friend of mine who teaches English as a foreign languages to celebs and VIP's once received a telephone call from the Sardinian footballer who was then a star of Chelsea FC, Gianfranco Zola. My friend who had read the novels of Zola at university but knew nothing about football said : 'That's a famous name' which the footballer took to mean that he had made the name famous. We thought that was funny at the time, but he was probably right. Casanova said: I loved, I was loved, my health was good, I had a great deal of money, and I spent it, I was happy and I knew it.