Some weeks the bullets come thudding in

And this has been one of them. I just heard from one friend that she has been diagnosed with MS in her very early thirties; another writes this afternoon to say that his ex, with whom he shares the custody of two young children, has been told by her oncologist that she has three months left. Sometimes middle age feels like a scene from a first world war film in which we all rush or stumble through the mud towards a distant unattainable trench and the only suspense lies in wondering which bullet and which shell has got whose name on it and when it will arrive.

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