I picked up the 1958 book Sopranino at Toadstool Books last month. It’s a sailing book, part of The Mariners Library from London publisher Rupert Hart-Davis. I’m a sucker for heroic-sounding transatlantic crossing tales.
Among the other books in the series, listed in the front matter, is The £200 Millionaire. Intrigued, I found the text online.
What an interesting little essay it is; here’s enough to hook you:
I’m a doctor, or was once. And I’ve worked very hard all my life trying to be a good doctor, but failing, I fear, on the whole. I married and we had five children, and it meant hard work bringing them up properly and educating them. But I worked and did it.
Then I moved to London to try to make some money. That was the hardest work of all. Then the war came, and more hard work in a base hospital. The war killed two of my sons — and my wife. And when it was all over I looked around, and I didn’t like the look of the life I saw ahead of me.
To go on working hard seemed the only thing left to do, but I found there was no zest left in my work any more. My daughters were married and my remaining son was doing well in a practice of his own. I found my children could get on very well without me. So there was no one left to work for, and I found I was very tired.
I sold my practice and retired to Harwich, where I was born. And there I soon found out that having nothing to do at all is even worse that working hard at something you’ve lost interest in. I did nothing for six months, and I think another six months of that would have been the death of me. By then I feel I should have been glad to die. But this little boat saved me.
It’s all enough to make me run out and buy a boat. I might yet.