• Jane Asher: Exit Stage Switzerland.

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    Mrs Gerald Scarfe, AKA Jane Asher, actress, cake maker extraordinaire and indefatigable campaigner for good causes has entered the debate on euthanasia as the House of Lords considers Assisted Dying Bill.

    Declaring herself to be “not religious in any way whatsoever” she went onto state “…….my God, of course. It is hard to imagine anyone with a humane bone in their body wouldn’t want to stop terrible suffering……” When asked about what she would do faced with an unbearable terminal illness she “……..wouldn’t think twice about visiting Dignitas…….”

    Passing over the irony of one declaring to have no religious faith invoking the name of the Almighty, the British Gazette takes Mrs Scarfe to task in her mistaken assumption that the compassion is all on one side, the one she supports. The fact of the matter is that on both sides of this argument are people who care deeply about those afflicted with such dreadful illnesses. As for her confident declaration that she wouldn’t think twice, again the British Gazette would gently suggest that the lady does not know how she would react in such circumstances.

    I recall the last time I spoke to my father. That was in the afternoon of Friday 11th July, 2003. Dad was in hospital due to water retention which was aggravating the condition he was suffering from, which was heart failure. At 97 this was not his only affliction. His glaucoma was quite advanced and although he still had some vision be was registered as blind. He was very tired and utterly miserable. Twice he declared, “I want to die.” My reaction was to try and cheer him up and to make suggestions, along the lines of “Can I read to you… and so forth.”

    The one thing I did manage to do was to persuade the ward nurses to let him have use of a radio as he could not get the hang of the pay as you listen hospital gantry type entertainment equipment and telephone.

    He died at 11:40PM that night. His death was wholly unassisted. Looking back he was “ready to go” that afternoon.

    Why did I leave him that afternoon if he was on his death-bed? You ask.

    The truth was that frail though he was, we were not expecting him to die. We were hoping, expecting that the hospital would be able to get the water retention back under control and he’d be back with us in better spirits.

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