Hilary Mantel

At 6 p.m. on a damp late June evening, I look up from my book and see my husband across the room, faint and grey with pain. What to do? It’s Sunday, and whereas until recent years you couldn’t on a British Sunday buy a pound of carrots or see a play, these days you can’t be taken ill, unless you’re prepared for a long and uncertain wait for your GP’s deputising service. Go to A&E? Perhaps it can be avoided. A few weeks ago, he had a similar pain, and an abdominal X-ray showed no cause for alarm. He lies down. The pain ebbs. We spend a restless night, turning and muttering, waiting for Monday when crisis is more convenient.

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