So we begin another year at the Hospital, the 99th as a hospital and the 113th as a charity supporting the Anglican Clergy. We are and always have been first and foremost a hospital and then a Christian institution. Those who have never visited us are often surprised at this focus, but on reflection realise it has to be so.

John Spencer died recently. He was probably best known as the White House Chief of Staff on ďThe West WingĒ and from that programme I would like to pass on a speech he made.
A man falls into a hole. The sides are so steep he canít escape. A doctor walks past and the man asks him for help. The doctor writes out a prescription and throws it down the hole and leaves. A priest passes by and the man asks him for help. The priest scribbles out a prayer, tosses it down the hole and hurries off.  Then one of the manís friends walks by and he asks him for help. The friend jumps down into the hole. ďAre you stupidĒ said the first man ď Now were both down the holeĒ. The friend said ďYes, but Iíve been down here before and I know the way outĒ.
From time to time we all fall into holes; holes of pain, or of despair. At St Lukeís, believe me, we have seen it all before and we have a number of skilled friends who can help people out of those holes. If nothing else we can provide a listening ear and perhaps point you in the way of other friends that can help.
When the charity started in 1893 it was as a rest home for those clergy that were burned out by the day-to-day pressures of running a parish. It wasnít until 1904 that the charity purchased the first of two houses on Fitzroy Square that opened as the Hospital on St Lukeís day in 1907. Some things have not changed and chief among them is the belief that a friendly ear is as important as a clean room or a super consultant to look after you.

When did I start to become old? I ask this question after a recent visit to buy a new computer. Now I think I am fairly computer literate, I once ran a computer software company so I think I know as much as most. Yet within ten minutes somebody who looked twelve had me completely lost and he might have been talking Chinese. In desperation I did what he said and bought a system that I didnít understand then Ė and still donít. Plus the system asks for my name so it can greet me when I switch it on, who cares if a computer greets you by your name when you switch it on. My wife suggested it was because I was crabby and was getting old. I donít think early middle age can be classified as old, but again as my wife pointed out if I was middle aged every body would be living to be 100. So thatís it then, I am old!
Imagine my delight when I read a report that showed this country has 80,000 people over the age of 100 and by 2050 they expect to have 1,000,000 centenarians. A lot of cards for the ruling monarch to sign.
However, this did allow me to go back to my wife and explain that I really was middle aged. This made me feel quite good until it was pointed out, by people who work for me, (and still do which shows what a good person I am) that the photograph we use on the top of this letter is a little old. I was asked if it was taken while I was still at school. While I admit that I might have changed slightly since it was taken I donít think its that bad. Or is it?