This year,we chose to go again to the same place in the Vingin Island.It is a sort of paradise on earth and I needed a complete break after seven months playing King Lear for the Loyal Shakespeare Company.The holiday was idllic and there was no recurrence of the breathing problem.On our return I got ready to work on a film starring Johnny Depp called From Hell.It was to be shot in Prague.The story concerned Jack the Ripper,who,in the version,led a double life as Queen Victoria’s personal physician Sir William Gull.The part was a blend of the benign with Grand Guignol and I was greatly looking forward to it.It was the first big budget film I’d been involved with for some time.The twin directors,the Hughes brothers,were extremely likeable,had been over to the house,and even up to Straford to see King Lear,stayng until the small hours to have a drink with all the actors at the Dirty Duck.I’d been for costume fitting and had grown some appropriate sideburns.
今年，我们又去了维尔京群岛上相同的地方，那里简直就是天堂。在为皇家莎士比亚剧团演出了7个月的《李尔王》后，我需要彻底地放松。在这个悠闲的假日里，我的呼吸问题并未出现。返程时，我决定在由Johnny Depp主演的《开膛手杰克》里出演一个角色。电影是在布拉格进行拍摄的，整个故事围绕着Jack &Ripper展开，在这个版本里，他作为维多利亚女王的私人医生——William Gull爵士，却一直过着双重人格的生活。整部电影是《大木偶剧院》的改良版，对此我充满期待。这也是我一段时间以来参与的第一部高成本电影。Hughes兄弟，这对孪生导演，非常讨人喜欢。他们不仅亲自拜访了我的家，还去斯特拉特福德看了《李尔王》，直到在Dirty Duck和所有演员小酌之后才匆匆离开。我的角色已经定妆完毕，为此我还适当留了一些鬓角。
A week before my departure,the asthmatic symptoms returned.I had to stop in the middle of a tennis as I had no breath.I went to my doctor who prescribed a similar treatment to the previous year and sent me for an X-ray.
I didn’t seem to improve a great deal during the following days,which is a bit worrying,but nevertheless,the evening before my flight,I began to pack.At just after six’o clock,I telephoned the surgery to see if the result of my X-ray had came through.Yes,they had,and they were normal.Would I like to speak to my doctor?They rang her extension but she couldn’t be traced.’Doctor Watson’s here.Would you like to speak to her?’Doctor Watson’s consulting room looks like a nursery.It is cammed with toys and books to amuse some of her younger patients while she is trying to examine them.She allowed me to speak no more than a coupled of sentences on the phong before interrupting.”Why are you sounding so short of breath?Get into the car at once and come down to the surgery.’
I did as I was told.’There is no way you are going to Prague in the morning,’she announced after she’d examined me .I’m concerned that you might have a blood clot on you lungs.Flying could kill you.Another doctor might allow you to go,but,if he did,he’d be a fool.’My whole world had begun to turn topsy-turvy.I telephoned Tervor there and then,trying to keep the alarm out of my voice,and ask him to contact the Production Office in Prague and explain the situation.He then collected me and drobe me to the hospital.The doctor wouldn’t allow me to drive.
That evening ,I was given all the tests including an ECG and a scan.As the scalpel-sharp Dr Watson had suspected,there was a thrombosis on the arteries leading to each lung.They’d found them in time, and things didn’t looked all that serious.At least they were treatable.’Was it the long-haul flights?’I asked the consultant .’Could easily have been,Sitting in one position for long periods without moving restricts the flow of blood.It’s a common cause of thrombosis.’I weighed up the future.The Huges brothers,Trevor told me,had reacted magnificently and had hastily rescheduled the shoot so that I could have six weeks to recover.That was a relief.Full of warmth and concern,they phoned the hospital from Prague and reassured me about my continuing in the film at a later date.
The next day, the consultant came to see me.He told me that he’d beem looking closer at the scan,trying to determine the cause of a thrombosis.There was an irregularity in my pancreas.It appeared to be a growth.He wanted me to see a speacialist.Like all good medical peolpe,he gave me the message loud and clear,straight between the eyes—then left me on my own for the implicationa to sink in and the imagination to get to work.
They found there was indeed a tumour and the urbane surgeon announced that he would have to remove it.It must have been there before I began to work on King Lear,growing a bit,hanging around,biding its time.Before any of us could say knife,I was being wheeled down to to operating theatre,the anaesthetist was sinking a needle into a vein and,some six and a half hours later,the operation was over,I became dimly aware,as I lay propped against a hillside of pillows,that a large piece of blue sticking plaster which I hadn’t been there before now crossed my midriff,that there were banks of flowers all round the room,looking uncomfortably like a Mafia funeral,and that I was ravenous hungry.Both the surgeon and the pathologist believed that the ‘lethargic’ tumour had been removed without leaving a trace.To be sure,I would have to have some radiotherapy,’Just to knock on the head anything that might be lurking.’said the surgeon with a reassuring grin.I pulled out of the film there and then.The future was too uncertain.
It is three weeks to the day since I had the operation.There is a majority twelve-inch scar just below my waist which lookslike Jack the Ripper had embarked on personal vengeance at my absence.I’m feeling sore,housebound,impatient to be better but,above all,grateful that,unbeknownst to me,a guardian angel was hovering that evening in late June,guiding Dr Watson to make her incredibly perceptive diagnosis.She passes it modestly as a ‘wild guess’.But it saved my life.Of that I am certain.
手术后三个星期，我的腰下多了一条12英寸的巨型疤痕，好像Jack & Ripper对我缺席电影的报复。疼痛使我不能离开屋子半步，我不禁迫不及待地希望好转。但幸运的是，守护天使在冥冥之中确实降临在了那个六月末的夜晚，引导Watson医生凭直觉做出了那个不可思议的诊断。她谦逊地说那只是胡乱猜测，却真真实实地救了我的命。这一点，我确信不疑。
So that’s what I mean when I talk about not taking anything for granted,espeacially as far as health is concerned.We never know what’s around the corner.I’ve started to come to terms with it all now,even though the physical and emotional shock has been considerable.I swim every morning,though not with quite the vigour to which I’m accustomed;I’ll work up to that.I walk twice a day-and sleep.Do I sleep!A lot of the rest of the time,in between the injections,blood tests and the intakes of pills ,I thank of my lucky stars.And I thank Dr Watson.My friends has been concerned and astonishedby degrees.The house is bulging with flowers and get-well-soon cards.The rest is up to me.
I pick up a novel and put it down again.I listen to some music.I wander around the garden,conscious that pulling up weeds isn’t the most sensible thing I can do.Seamus,our wonderful,exuburant dog,leaps around me totally oblivious of my predicament.We cuddle up together when we have our afternoon nap.Food is a bit of problem.An awful lot of wind,but gradually it’s getting better.At least my appetite is back.If anyone else tells me it’s two steps forward and one step back I’ll blip them.Someone said to me the other day,’Now you’ve got all this leisure time,yu should really take advantage of it,deadhead the roses,enjoy the summer,doze off in the sun(what sun?)-write a book...’