This year has seen a surfeit of old people whose hold on life has slipped. Hoyle is an ornery character but one who nevertheless has the spirit of nuannaarpoq, partly by turning a health problem to good use: easily out of breath when he walks, he just walks more slowly and looks more intensely at the world’s beauty, details and anomalies, noticing things his spryly striding friends don’t even see as they energetically charge past.
Hoyle in hospital: ‘As you get old,’ he says, ‘it gets harder to grab hold of life. This time my fingers nearly slipped.’
Nearly, but not quite. He hung on by a tenacious thread.
Source: Lawrence Durrell, Reflections on a Marine Venus (London: Faber & Faber, 1960), p. 143
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