excerpt from 'The Golden Sovereign' pp. 242–43 (266 words)

excerpt from 'The Golden Sovereign' pp. 242–43 (266 words)

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The Golden Sovereign

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This attack [of ill health] coincided with the world-wide outbreak of influenza which swept … over Europe early in 1919.  The local doctor suggested that I should be inoculated, and accordingly I accepted this new treatment.  The result was that I went to bed for three months.

                Fortunately we had previously invited a young Excise officer and his new wife to stay for a few weeks while they looked for a cottage … They arrived during the first week that I was in bed … The bride had brought down a Pleyel upright piano with her, a sympathetic instrument, not confused in tone although overstrung, and she played and sang with amateur charm, specialising in the songs of Schumann and Hugo Wolff [sic].  Every morning … she opened my bedroom door and the door downstairs, and gave me an hour’s delight.

                In 1952 I was vividly reminded of that happy period of idleness and freedom from official routine.  I was lying ill in the British Embassy in Copenhagen for a week, interrupting a round of lectures which I was giving in Denmark and Sweden.  While I was in bed, in the Hans Andersen little palace of white and gold, Harriet Cohen called on the Ambassador, on her way home from a recital tour in Norway.  My bedroom door was again opened, and I listened to this austere musician playing Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque, as I had listened to the Wiltshire bride over thirty years earlier; the same music, more authoritative and in an enlarged setting, but, and there’s the mystery, the same auditor.

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excerpt from 'The Golden Sovereign' pp. 242–43 (266 words)


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