The Late Works: 93
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Title graphic: The End ... and a Beginning
The End ... and a Beginning: 94

For much of his life Bridge enjoyed good health. He was lucky in having a sturdy constitution that could withstand the stresses and strains of his energetic nature. Admittedly, when he was young, he had contracted the rare eye-ailment choroiditis,1 and his eyesight was never strong. Proof-reading was therefore a tiring business - he asked Britten to check the proofs of The Christmas Rose and the Violin Sonata and also to copy the parts for Phantasm. There was the occasional accident too. While prawning at Birling Gap near Friston, a favourite diversion particularly when friends visited, he twisted his knee, caught between two rocks, which delayed his third American visit by a week.

By the time Bridge was past his fiftieth birthday, a more serious problem arose. A lengthy bout of feeling under the weather (probably associated with high blood pressure) hindered considerably his work on the Violin Sonata in 1932, and he was ordered to bed for two months during the spring to rest. It was only by the following November that he felt his usual self again. He had been a 'very touchy problem' but was not deeply upset, regarding his ill-health as merely temporary.

However, four years later, a severe chill led in turn to bronchitis, vomiting and finally collapse. For nearly a fortnight, it was touch and go whether he would live: two specialists were brought down from London to Friston, three nurses were employed, and Marjorie Fass brought her two maids to help. At best Bridge was only semi-conscious, Britten providing a detailed bulletin in his diary:

He don't [sic] remember anything of his fortnight's wandering of brain - but apparently he was perfectly 'decent' and incredibly lucid in it. - mostly being in Spain - worrying about the revolution and Toni B[rosa] -, running thro' music, talking French to Marge [Marjorie Fass], and slanging audiences at Norwich for not taking my 'Hunting Fathers' more seriously!!2

1 Inflammation of the eye-ball's choroid coat.
2 Entry for 17 December 1936. See D Mitchell and P Reed, Letters From a Life: Selected Letters and Diaries of Benjamin Britten, Faber, 1991, Vol 1, p 459. Bridge had attended the first performance of Britten's Our Hunting Fathers at Norwich on 25 September 1936.