Melancholy news on all sides. News of the death, some time ago, of Maurizio Masetti, a friend in Florence who was much concerned with the story of the Brownings and the case of Pompilia, the heroine of his poem The Ring and the Book - we originally met through the publication of my book on the subject, and Maurizio was a dear, mild, intelligent man we spent some time with on our last visit to Florence. He died suddenly in Bristol, on a visit to the UK, within forty-right hours of a rare chest infection. Then we hear that our old friend David Hight, who we met man, many years ago when he was working in publishing, put his car in reverse instead of first (don't know the details, but basically I think that was what happened) and damaged his leg so badly it was thought at one time it would have to be amputated. Now recovering, though at the moment back in hospital because it's got itself infected. I guess one's immediate reaction to this kind of news, after pangs of sorrow and sympathy, is almost inevitably, 'Well, it wasn't me' - coupled with 'how easily it could have been me'. The ice on which we walks is damnably thin.