Nora Ephron, the screenwriter, director and author has died of myeloid leukaemia at the age of 71. Two years ago she wrote a book of reflections called I Remember Nothing. It made me laugh and cry then, when I first read it but now that she has gone, I value even more the gems she left behind:
1. As you approach old age, make a list of the things you won't miss - and the things you will.
Hers included (on the negative side) "dry skin, email, washing my hair, funerals, barmitzvahs, mammograms and taking off make up". And on the plus side: "my kids, walking in the park, bed, butter, taking a bath and Thanksgiving in Manhattan."
2. Get rid of the egg white omelette. People who have high cholesterol believe that eating foods like lobster, avocado and egg yolks is harmful. Ephron claims it has no effect whatsoever on your cholesterol count. It's time to put a halt to the egg white omelette (which tastes awful). She says: "I don't want to confuse this with something actually important, like the war in Afghanistan, which it's also time to put a halt to, but I want to cut down on the consumption of egg white omelettes".
3. Chicken soup. "The other day I felt a cold coming on. So I decided to have chicken soup to ward off the cold. Nevertheless I got the cold. This happens all the time: you think you're getting a cold, you have chicken soup, you get the cold anyway. So is it possible that chicken soup gives you a cold?"
4. Restaurants: Ephron has a wonderful rant against waiters plying endless bottles of Pellegrino, wielding outsize pepper grinders and interrupting the conversation with "Is everything all right?"
5. The six stages of email: Infatuation, Clarification, Confusion, Disenchantment, Accommodation and Death. In other words we go from excitement to understanding, then on to the opening out of the world wide web, followed by drowning in incoming mail. Anyone who has been away for a couple of days and returned to an inbox of 120 unread messages will appreciate this.
6. Old Age. "Really old is 80. But if you are young, you would definitely think I'm old (69). In these days of physical fitness, hair dye and plastic surgery, you can live much of your life without feeling or looking old. But then one day your knee goes, or your shoulder, or your back or your hip.... things droop, spots appear.... you're 10 lbs fatter and you can't lose a pound of it... your hands don't work as well as they once did and you can't open bottles, jars, wrappers..."
7. And finally, the best advice of all - and the hardest to stick to:"If this is one of the last days of my life, am I doing exactly what I want to be doing?"