I have danced with the Grim Reaper many times during my life and have always remained one step ahead.

He is still waiting for the last waltz.

My first brush with the scythe-man, was when as an 11-year-old boy scout, I got in trouble during a swimming lesson right in the centre of the deep end of the pool.

Fortunately, the scoutmaster was a Catholic priest and immediately recognizing a potential lost soul, without any hesitation he attempted to walk over the water to save me – he plunged to the bottom on his first step.

It may have helped if he had removed his heavy crucifix first!

Still water-related, I attempted to water surf using a child’s foam board in a desolate bay during a visit to South Africa during the apartheid era.

Unknown to me, there was a violent underflow that sucked me down to the bottom, then dragged me way out to sea within minutes.

Fortunately, I was eventually rescued by a lone swimmer who dumped my unconscious and blue-faced body on the beach where an angry Afrikaner stood over me, demanding the return of his toy board.

Like many of my age, I survived the London Blitz, but not without a few dodges with uncle death and also a head-on car crash; two years eating 1950’s army food; and many many years working with fatherless newspaper editors, who could reduce a cub reporter to a whimpering puppy dog, complete with a pool of liquid on the floor at a single stare.

Then came semi-retirement in carefree sunny Spain.

Peace at last – that was until a couple of years ago when my tired old body started to complain.

A couple of serious operations nearly killed off my weird sense of humour, which without, I wouldn’t exist.

At the moment, I am being fed through a tube in the stomach, which I suppose is a fair punishment through talking rubbish through my backside all these years and getting paid for it.

Joking apart, my purpose of laying all my present problems on you, is to express my eternal gratitude for the incredible care and help given by the Spanish Health Service.

All deserve top praise from cleaners to nurses, and doctors to specialists.

I only wish that for once I could gather sufficient of my rubbish, illiterate words together to vent my true feelings. So, I will simply say: Gracias eres el mejor.

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