Author(s): Fred Simpson
Eleanor Hutton is a young New Zealand General Practitioner – completely dedicated to her profession – whose ‘happiness’ is challenged by the deep and disturbing friendship that develops between her and her dying patient. The patient, Ted, in his middle sixties, is a widely travelled immigrant with an interest in ‘everything’, and his teasing and expansive vitality exposes Eleanor to the limitations of her settled life. After his death she learns, to her surprise and horror, that he has ‘gifted her’ the task of delivering his ashes to a life-long friend – a man of similar age who lives in a failed and corrupt southern African state.
Ted’s bequest is initially viewed by both Eleanor and her colleagues as preposterous – dangerous even – but, because she is ‘too good for her own good,’ Eleanor reluctantly agrees to undertake the journey. The result, which is narrated by a less-than-perfect ‘spirit’, records, through trying but comic and romantic adventure, a transformation – a transformation not only of Eleanor, but of all whom she meets. It is a transformation which endorses the discomfort of risk, and points the way towards self-awakening and fulfilment.
Fred Simpson was born in 1949 in South Africa, but was raised and educated in Zimbabwe. He briefly taught English in Bulawayo in the ‘70s, and then studied medicine in Cape Town. The focus of his medical career has always been in rural practice, first in South Africa, and then in New Zealand, which he moved to with his family in 1987.
He continues to practice as a General Practitioner, but his ‘secret love’ is writing. He has been a regular contributor to Poetry NZ, as well as other poetry publications in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. He has published a book of poetry entitled Lucky Me! and he has written a play, Cyril’s Moon, which has not, as yet, been performed.
He and his wife live in Cambridge, New Zealand. Their two children live abroad.