A few years ago I was still managing to keep my mother – elderly and frail – living in her own home, which was what she wanted. But she had a collection of medical problems any one of which could flare up into a crisis without notice. Every now and again, I would get a call from one of her carers telling me that her GP had called an ambulance. I would then rush to the hospital to ensure she was properly attended to and to give her comfort. Deep down I was worried that she would never be able to return home again but instead would be cooped up in hospital or a nursing home for the rest of her life.
In this period of acute anxiety I had two sources of comfort. One, naturally, was my family. The other – and I’m afraid this will seem a dreadful moment of bathos – was The Clicking of Cuthbert, a book of short stories by P. G. Wodehouse.