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Oddly, or perhaps t oddly, come to think of it, the smoking ban came into effect about three days after I got the news - yes, w I do come to think of it, it seems more than odd, it seems eerily consequential, suggesting among other possibilities that I am so innately, organically obedient that my whole physical system submitted to the law in spite of my habits and inclination, and that my inner opposition to it was immediately met by the most appropriate and natural punishment - lung cancer. So reflects the celebrated diarist and playwright Simon Gray during this frank, profoundly moving and often painfully funny account of what he refers to as 'the beginning of my dying'. During a holiday with his wife in Crete, Gray recalls the scans, consultations and biopsies that have dominated the previous months while offering unforgettable portraits of fellow tourists and digressions on everything from lying to the maitre d' and concerns about tipping to crimes of passion and his new-found obsession with obituaries. Written with a great generosity of spirit and a poignant reluctance to leave this world behind, Simon Gray's Coda is as life-affirming as it is heart-rending.
Simon Gray was born in 1936. He began his writing career with Colmain (1963), the first of five novels, all published by Faber. He is the author of many plays for TV and radio, also films, including the 1987 adaptation of J L Carr's A Month in the Country, and TV films including Running Late, After Pilkington (winner of the Prix Italia) and Emmy Award-winning Unnatural Pursuits. He wrote more than thirty stage plays amongst them Butley and Otherwise Engaged (which both received Evening Standard Awards for Best Play), Close of Play, The Rear Column, Quartermaine's Terms, The Common Pursuit, Hidden Laughter, The Late Middle Classes (winner of the Barclay's Best Play Award), Japes, The Old Masters (his ninth play to be directed by Harold Pinter) and Little Nell, which premiered at the Theatre Royal Bath in 2007, directed by Peter Hall. Little Nell was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2006, and Missing Dates in 2008. In 1991 he was made BAFTA Writer of the Year. His acclaimed works of non-fiction are: An Unnatural Pursuit, How's That for Telling 'Em, Fat Lady?, Fat Chance, Enter a Fox, The Smoking Diaries, The Year of the Jouncer, The Last Cigarette and Coda. He was appointed CBE in the 2005 New Year's Honours for his services to Drama and Literature. Simon Gray died in August 2008.