Not long ago, I was invited to open a literary festival in Toronto together with the Canadian writer Alice Munro, whose work I have loved and admired for years. Flying to Canada: what a nightmarish thought! My whole body seemed to recoil from it, because my legs have become so wobbly that walking more that about 50 yards is impossible, and even that much is frighteningly difficult when my deaf old head is being battered by the incomprehensible din of places such as airports, an experience so horrid that probably no undeaf person can imagine it.
No no, I couldn’t face it. But then I thought: “The chance to meet Alice Munro at last – how can I throw that away?”
Alice Munro will be 80 in July.