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About A Week: How Much Is A Life Worth?

Peter Hinchliffe mourns the loss of true wealth.

In the great financial crash of 2008 the world’s financial institutions have lost $2.8 trillion.

Your eye has probably just glided over that figure. If you’re like me you probably don’t even know how many noughts there are in a trillion. So here it is again:

$2,800,000,000,000.

Where has it all gone, this money? Is it merely paper? Numerals on a computer screen?

The effect of the financial crash on millions of lives around the world will be terrible.

People will lose their homes and jobs. The lavish spending of borrowed cash will be replaced by enforced austerity.

These are worrying times.

And I feel numbly detached from them.

Joyce, my wife of 45 years, died suddenly on October 20th. She was 68, seemingly very healthy.

Joyce, who tried every day to help someone, had attended a University of the Third Age Spanish class. With another member of the class, 84-year-old Sheila, one of her good friends, she walked to a multi-storey car park.

“Have you fastened your seat belt Sheila?’’ she asked, when they were seated in our Honda Jazz.

Having been assured that Sheila was strapped in Joyce started the car.

She then half-turned and said “Sheila I feel...’’

She collapsed.

Sheila called help. A couple came. Two people on holiday, visiting relatives in our town. The young woman from Chicago (Joyce was born in the USA) phoned for an ambulance. The man, a film stuntman, tried to revive my wife.

A post mortem revealed that Joyce had died instantly of a massive brain haemorrhage.

Joyce was buried in our village churchyard on an icy cold day. The church of St John was packed with people who knew her and loved her.

$2,800,000,000,000?

I would give that, and as much again, to have Joyce beside me right now.


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