Today brings the sad news that writer, critic and television broadcaster Clive James is losing his battle with cancer. He told Radio 4's Meeting Myself Coming Back programme, in a show to be broadcast this Saturday, that he was “getting near the end” after being diagnosed with leukaemia, kidney failure and lung disease in 2010.
In an interview with the New Statesman that year James spoke about his extraordinary career, about freedom in the West, and about how poetry “is always the centre of the whole business. It's where I started. It's probably where I'll end.”
In 2011 he wrote a poem for the magazine:
"Procedure for Disposal"
It may not come to this, but if I should
Fail to survive this year of feebleness
Which irks me so and may have killed for good
Whatever gift I had for quick success -
For I could talk an hour alone on stage
And mostly make it up along the way,
But now when I compose a single page
Of double-spaced it takes me half the day -
If I, that is, should finally succumb
To these infirmities I'm slow to learn
The names of lest my brain be rendered numb
With boredom even as I toss and turn,
Then send my ashes home, where they can fall
In their own sweet time from the harbour wall.