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Cliff Lee Calls Gil Meche to Talk About Retirement

The last time these two spoke was back in October, when Meche called Lee during the playoffs.

Lee: Gil, this is Clifton. Might this be a good time to talk?

Meche (fumbling with phone): Yes... Just a moment...I've just been toggling through a cache of old broadsides I've pulled up on EEBO tonight...

Lee:  Old midwife's guides I'll bet...

Meche: You know me too well. But really, no.

Lee: Well, I know this may be a little forward, but I just wondered how you were doing? After your big decision.

Meche: I feel... well, I feel like the world is young again. Oh dear, listen to me. That came out more bathetic than I'd meant.

Lee: Well, there's a reason why we've never really moved beyond the framework of romanticism in the West, now isn't there? It does seem to speak to something fundamental...


Meche: Certainly, though there's also a reason why we end up expressing ourselves mostly in cliches. On the whole, in any case, what I mostly feel is like a burden has been lifted.

Lee: I didn't know it had been...

Meche: Well, perhaps I was being too florid. Nevertheless, I'm reminded of something Richard Ford once said, "writing isn't career, it's a vocation." It was an odd formulation, but what he meant was that he wasn't going to spend his entire life writing novels if that spark... well there's the romantic myth again... wasn't there.

Lee: I feel that I should say something.

Meche: Yes.

Lee: Many of us... many of us were quite struck. Quite struck by the gesture that you made.

Meche: I choose to imagine that I live in a world where honour isn't noteworthy.

Lee: But sadly we must.

Meche: Let us speak no more of it.

Lee: So how will you fill your hours forward?

Meche: How do any of us? The evening paper, perhaps an extra drink of sherry after dinner, a re-reading of the better parts of George Eliot, another Grand Tour while I can still manage to impersonate a young man.

Lee: And the foxes?

Meche: Well, it appears that Cameron has let us down on that front, hasn't he? However, a fellow I spoke to after Evensong last week said that there are a few places in East Africa that still run hunts along the old model. 

Lee: Rather more high Victorian than Georgian I would suspect.

Meche: Naturally.

Lee: Just listen to us! Two hurlers here, talking on and on about the thrill of the hunt. We really are a terrible case.

Meche: Now, what's most terrible is that I've just now remembered to congratulate you on your recent return to the old stomping grounds of William Penn...

Lee: Say nothing of it.

Meche: I don't know whether to allude to Gladstone or Disraeli at this moment...

Lee: I'm just thankful you didn't label me a Ramsay MacDonald...

Meche: Oh, but what if I had said Harold Wilson...

(they both giggle delightedly)

Lee: But yes, we are very happy with how this winter worked out. I thought it a bit crass... a bit common to have it played out in the papers to such an extent. To think that a man of my standing... my heritage... might be swayed by the vagaries of the American States Tax System! I shudder.

Meche: Indeed, but we all know that republics are largely hopeless in these matters.

Lee: Without fail. And on that note, I'm reminded of the dictum that every man desires only to be the prince of his own calendar. I feel the receiver growing heavy in my hand. Shall we say farewell for now?

Meche: With pleasure and hope for a talk around this time next month.

Lee: Goodbye.

Meche: Do take care.