Hazel to Ruth, April 13, 1994

This draft was written only a few days before Hazel’s cancer was diagnosed. It was written on the same day as the letter to Nancy and Steve (above). I don’t know which has precedence, but I’m putting this second, since I found it in September 2002, the day after the anniversary of Hazel’s death (her deathday?), amongst a pile of recycled printing paper in a trunk in our living room, the room Hazel died in. (Actually I noticed it after I’d printed out some rubbish on the back, so recycling can be beneficial.)

6 Vincent St.,
NSW 2041,

13 April 1994

Dear Ruth,

I didn’t think it would be this long before I managed to write to you. It’s probably over a year since your voice startled me one day in California. I thought you were about to say that you were at San Francisco airport and all I needed to do was to pick you up. Not so. You were huddled in a public phone box, wresting with a handful of coins and an impatient queue anxious for your departure.

Since then we’ve packed ourselves up and said goodbye to good friends and returned to Sydney, unpacked and started again. It was interesting to be thrown back into work again — I suddenly felt enfranchised — I had an office and a secretary and a phone and, moreover, my office was in a new building perched 25 floors up with a magnificent view of Sydney. The view never fails to impress me. My working conditions have changed dramatically in other ways. We are now providing legal advice to government departments on a billing basis, and the government departments will soon be free to obtain their legal advice from private practice. In other words we will be competing for their work. So the office culture is gradually responding to the market, and figures and statistics dominate. Fortunately, I work with some good people and their transformation into good corporate citizens will never be complete. Rob had a stimulating time at Stanford and found it hard to give up his stamping ground, and his colleagues, and his old friends from his time there in the 70’s. He managed to get back there for two weeks at the beginning of this year. I had a good time there but it wasn’t so hard for me to leave.

We have settled down into our routine of work, children, sleep or work, children, sleep with children. Joshua and Zoë continue to beguile. I have been on my own for the past week. Rob took J and Z down to Melbourne for an extended Easter to see gradma, aunts, uncles and cousins. They have a wonderful time and it’s a shame they only get to see Rob’s family on special occasions. I had to work but I’ve been enjoying my unencumbered condition.

I’ve been trying to make more time in my life and in quick succession I have taken on board a cleaner, a dishwasher and an au pair. The au pair is Kerstin, she is 20 and she comes from Austria, near the Swiss border. Her English is poor. We have spent several nights poring over German/English dictionaries trying to communicate. She does no housework, she’s not the energetic sort, and she has difficulty organising the children. But somehow it seems to be working. Her English is improving and she is learning how the house operates and its daily routines. She has been here a month now and she is gradually gaining confidence. She is presently with Rob and J and Z in Melbourne

I am planning a trip to the UK for my niece’s wedding in September. Unfortunately it’ll be too expensive to take the children but I would dealy love to. Diane is their only cousin on my side of the family — she’s 28 and more like an aunt. I am hoping to take my mother and my aunt on a trip to Scotland. My mother is now 78 and my aunt is 83 — they live next door to one another in the New Forest, get on famously and both enjoy life. You may remember them from graduation day — they haven’t changed. I would like them to come here for Christmas but it’s so far. They managed a trip to California for Christmas but that’s half the distance. But I will have to start making trips back to the UK more often if she can’t get out here. The shame of it is that when my mother came out here, she really got on well with Rob’s mother and I would like to see them together again.

A friend of mine is about to go to The Hague to join the United Nations War Crimes Commission. The Deputy Head of the Commission is my old boss. He was appointed a couple of months back. He ran the War Crimes Commission here in Australia. It was wound up at the New Year after several years’ work which brought about five to Court, none of whom were successfully prosecuted. I am not sure how long his appointment is for.

I have spoken to Nell recently but I haven’t seen her since just before Christmas. She is very well. She is more reluctant to leave the house these days apart from routine trips to the shops and the doctor — I have tried to interest her in going to the theatre but she has put me off. It is a bit of a struggle to pick her up and get her into the city, see the show, and home again all in the one day. I’m thinking that a trip to the local cinema in Avalon may be the better option. There are any number of shows she might enjoy — Shadowlands, Remains of the Day, Much Ado About Nothing (they all seem to have Emma Thompson in in them — it’s actually Anthony Hopkins I like). I also ration her exposure to my children as I think a 5-year-old and 3-year-old racing around the house together would be overwhelming. The last time I went I took Zoë and it worked well. I’ll send you a photo.

Ruth was a very old friend of Hazel’s from Southampton University.

Hazel didn’t travel to her niece’s wedding. She finally made her last trip to England in early 1996, to her mother’s eightieth birthday party. Her Aunt Ivy died some months before Hazel did. Pat and the kids and I drove up to see Hazel’s Cousin Anne and Jim in Aberdeen in June, 1999.

I don’t know who Hazel’s friend was who went The Hague, but her old boss at the U.N. War Crimes Commission there was Graham Blewitt, currently the Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Hazel took medical leave from work as soon as the diagnosis was made, returning to work a year later, until the diagnosis of secondary. metastatic cancer was made in August 1995, when she quit and soon took medical early retirement.

Last Updated 15 September 2002