A friend suggested a wonderful faith-healer named George Chapman who lived in Wales. Ronnie, who was sitting up
by this time, eager to make me happy, agreed to see him.
Looking back now, I suppose it was foolish but the very day Ronnie was released from hospital, our friend Charles Neave-Hill
helped me drive him to Wales for a session with George. We filled the back of the car with pillows and cushions to make
Ronnie as comfortable as possible, but really it was not an ideal trip after major surgery.
On the way we stopped at a small pub near Newbury for a meal. Ronnie made a huge effort. He dragged himself
painfully from the car, walked slowly to the pub and recovered sufficiently at the table to order lunch and tell us some of
his amusing anecdotes.
When we finally arrived at George Chapman's home, Ronnie was led into a quiet room where the healer gently laid his hands
on him. It was very, very peaceful. George made no promises. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, he
explained. He would do his best.
Afterwards Ronnie felt an incredible sense of release. His pain was eased he said and he felt that George helped.
Unfortunately, although I tried not to show it, I was disappointed. 'We will have to see what happens,' George told
me, 'but there comes a time when it's right to go and you can't stop that. He is a very, very weak man.' I felt
that George was telling me tactfully that he didn't think Ronnie would survive.
Undaunted, I contacted another faith healer, who was reputed to have had great success with the Queen's horses.
Quite why I felt these were excellent qualifications for treating Ronnie escapes me now, but one of the advantages this woman
could offer was a home visit to us in Clapham, infinitely preferable to a tiring trip for Ronnie.
Well, she was a week and a half late. When she finally made it, she swept out of the taxi in a huge, swirling cape,
strode into the house and asked to visit the loo. As she turned towards me I was astounded to get a blast of pure vodka
which knocked me backwards.
On her return from the loo, by which time Ronnie had joined us, the healer talked non-stop about her triumphs, while
she swigged her way through my stock of vodka. She talked so much that she exhausted Ronnie utterly, and he said he
was going to lie down on the bed.
'That's okay. I can treat you there,' she said. Then she told him that if he was to improve he had to want
to get better. He wasn't trying hard enough, she implied, which offended Ronnie because he was trying as hard as any
human being could.
At last, when the vodka was finished, she decided to get to work. Ronnie was lying on his side on the bed, she
settled herself comfortable on a chair behind him and laid her hands on his back. Mercifully she stopped talking.
However, the session seemed to go on and on and the healer was making odd little grunting noises. Was this part of the
spiritual process, Ronnie wondered, or did she have a cold. Eventually, Ronnie couldn't resist peeping round for a look.
The healer was fast asleep.
Ronnie rather lost his faith in faith-healers after that experience, and confined himself to qualified medical doctors.
However, as his medication was stepped up and up, I began to worry about possible side effects. Ronnie had always been
good with words, now whenever he wrote anything his spelling went to pieces. He would write 'reeed' instead of 'red',
During one visit to the consultant I took advantage of Ronnie's absence, while he was away having yet another test, to
confide my fears. Was it the medication, I wondered or had the disease spread.
'You see, I'm worried about his brain,' I explained. 'He's always been so literate and now...' Just then
the door opened and Ronnie in a wheelchair was pushed breezily through, fresh from his latest x-ray. He came to a halt
opposite the desk.
The doctor stared at him for a moment and then he announced frankly. 'Your wife's worried about your brain, Mr
Allen.' There was a deadly hush. Then Ronnie looked at me sideways. Up till then Ronnie had always been
the intellectual of the partnership, I was the scatterbrain. People compared us jokingly to the comedy duo....and Gracie.
'She's worried about my brain?' Ronnie asked incredulously. It seemed rediculous when he put
it like that. 'Say goodnight Gracie,' he instructed. The doctor laughed and I wheeled Ronnie out.
'Something wrong with my brain, indeed,' said Ronnie as we bowled along the corridors, and that was the end of it. The
medication was sending his handwriting a little haywire, that was all.