Just back from my one celebrity engagement, 'turning on' the lights of the Stanford Village Christmas tree, except of course my good friend Peter had to do the physical throwing the switch as I couldn't get to it. Still there we were on the Green, the handbell-ringers playing and the rest of us singing carols. Ah, village life.
If only life was all that simple. But it's not. Much of this week, it feels, I've spent thinking about assisted suicide, prompted by the film on Sky on Wednesday night of Craig Ewert dying in the Dignitas clinic in Zurich. He had MND, I guess his type was ALS as it was more aggressive than mine, though his speech was clearer than mine has been for a long time. Not having a dish I only watched the clips that Sky released for the news channels. I'm not sure I'd have wanted to watch the entire thing. To be honest, I don't think showing suicide of any sort on TV is helpful. I'd not want to make a judgement about those who take their own lives. I have a buried a number, and it always seems to me that we're not in a position to plumb the depths of such a person's mind and soul. I know that I don't want to choose that exit route and actually I don't think I'm entitled to, for reasons I outlined in the chapter 'Enigma' in 'My Donkeybody'.
It was a surprise on Wednesday when I received an email from my publishers saying The Independent would like to run an article for the next day on assisted suicide from my point of view. 'Wow!' I thought. 'I'm not sure I can be coherent enough. But better give it a go.' Fortunately the journalist who contacted me was very helpful and suggested cutting and editing extracts from the book, with additional bits to link it to the news items. So that's what I did, and it ended up on three pages, with the headline, 'I don't want the right to die.' What took me back somewhat was the reaction to the feature of commenters on the website. I thought Independent readers would read thoughtfully and argue rationally! Maybe it's just internet commenters who don't.