Yesterday, at The Oldie Literary Lunch, Andrew Morton was, much to our surprise, taken ill. He arrived full of vim and vigour, and was raring to go. He was chatty and energetic on arrival, quickly falling into conversation with our publisher, James Pembroke, and the other speakers, Mark Forsyth and Bob Marshall-Andrews.
As the lunch concluded with coffee and petits fours, Morton, after an introduction from Barry Cryer, was the first to speak. His talk – about his new book, Wallis in Love – began with a fine witticism. He volunteered to fill the vacancy at Prince Harry’s wedding, left by the bride’s father.
Only a few minutes later, his speech became harder to follow. He began to sway and check his notes as he became visibly confused. While describing Wallis Simpson’s disappearance to Cannes before Edward VIII’s abdication, he stopped. Apologising profusely for not being able to go on, he sat briefly before leaving the room.
The Simpson’s-in-the-Strand staff were admirable. They sat Morton down in the pleasantly cool reception area, and on the advice of one of our readers – a doctor – called an ambulance. When this ambulance took a little too long to arrive, the head of Simpson’s security marched out onto the Strand and managed to hail an ambulance. By this point, Morton was speaking easily and was well enough to walk unaided to the ambulance, which took him to University College Hospital.
The paramedics informed us that it was a mini-stroke, with no lasting damage. Morton is now doing well, and we wish him a speedy recovery.