Thursday, August 12, 2010

Old Filth.

Our bookclub book this month is OLD FILTH by Jane Gardam,
and I have been enjoying it so much.
This novel tells the story of a Raj orphan sent back "home" to England at age five.
He becomes a judge of the Inner Temple.
The story takes in the period of the glory days of the British Empire..

Do you feel sad when you come to the end of a good book? Sad to leave the characters.
This morning I almost finished the book ..and I've left a few pages to read slowly..

Old Filth is in hospital with strangers..the nurse calls him old Gramps.

I read that and shut the book. It brought back a memory I'd quite forgotten.
My first employment when young was nurse aiding at the Mater Hospital in Auckland. A sixteen year old country girl far from home.
I became very fond of an elderly man in our ward, and I came to call him Pops. He asked me why once..and I told him he was like a grandfather and I'd never known my grandfathers. He laughed and said if I'd known who he was I probably wouldn't call him Pops. Do you mind I asked? No, he didn't mind.

One day I went into his room and he asked me to hold his hand. I did. He closed his eyes and I held his hand. I felt so sorry that he never had any family. He opened his eyes and said ..thank you.. made a gurgly noise.. a puff of breath... and.. so... still. I just stood there holding his hand, while the truth sank in. I walked out and calmly told Sister Denise. . I think he's dead.

A few days later Sister Denise showed me an obituary in the newspaper ...about a man who had been a judge of the High Court.
Posted by Picasa


  1. Great post. I like that you have put your picture of your bedside table with it. Such a great image to associate with an end of life story. I hope I will go when I am at home, in bed with a bedside light on and a pile of books beside me. I love that light in your picture. It speaks of productivity and comfort.

  2. Thank you Natalie. I think I would like to go in just the same way. Yes.

  3. Lovely post J, loved your memory and am now wanting to read the book.

  4. Oh, Joan, you caught my breath there and squeezed a tear out. Old Filth. Gramps. Pop. Stories in books and stories in real life. You told this so well.

    I have had books that I didn't want to end. Books that I laid face down, like yours above, and let it sit awhile before I let it end. I have read some reviews of Old Filth and I think I will try to find it and give it a go.

    Let us know if you can how your book group likes it.


  5. Hi Joan, What a moving post. You are so right about books you don't want to finish. I can really miss the characters, like old friends, at the end of a good book. Jane xx

  6. What a touching story. You made such a difference to that old man's last breaths. How sad that he had no-one else to care when he reached the end, but wonderful that he asked you to hold his hand.

  7. Thank you Marilyn, Penny, Jane and Juliet for such lovely responses. It is sad when we grow to an age where our peers and those who knew us when young, have all gone. How wonderful to have family then.