June 25th 1972

“Went to Gilkicker. Eyes started to play up a lot”

Gilkicker is a short run of beach at the entry to Portsmouth Harbour on the South Coast. Dad used to enjoy taking us there, so he could indulge in his favourite hobby of sea fishing.

Fort Gilkicker, built in 1861 as a defensive rampart for the harbour entrance, is mere yards from the beach, but my brain – as ever – fails miserably in remembering if we ever wandered around it. Finding a photo online never even jogged a single neuron. Sad isn’t it?

My eyes have been a source of discomfort, worry and concern all my life. Back in my teens I suffered conjunctivitis in a bad way, my eyes feeling constantly scratchy and irritated. Of course I would rub at them, and of course this would merely make them worse.

One of the early things I had to express to my wife when we started living together was the necessity of separate hand towels, for fear of spreading my conjunctivitis, even as far more controlled as it is these days. I wouldn’t wish my eyes on anyone.


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