My most treasured possession is the birthday card my accomplice Nigel gave me as he was dying. I preserve it shut by my bedside, and blow a kiss to it each morning.

Nigel gave me the cardboard, with a message inside, on the afternoon of Could 20, 2020: a wonderful spring day.

That was the sunny night of the Downing Road backyard occasion the place mask-free friends mingled from 6pm to share bottles of ‘carry your individual’ wine.

The tables, little question, have been being arrange for that illicit soiree when Nigel and I met within the foyer of a non-public north London hospital the place he was being handled.

Sue Reid, pictured with her partner Nigel at home in West London. As he lay dying in a north London hospital, there was a party in the garden at Number 10

Sue Reid, pictured along with her accomplice Nigel at house in West London. As he lay dying in a north London hospital, there was a celebration within the backyard at Quantity 10

The Covid guidelines have been draconian: each of us have been masked to the hilt, and I even donned an previous pair of huge purple sun shades to keep away from catching the virus by means of my eyes or passing it to Nigel.

Now the reminiscence of that dreadfully unhappy day appears much more merciless.

How indignant it has made me to consider myself and Nigel – who used to play tennis with Boris Johnson and thought of himself a fan of the Prime Minister – have been taken for fools by the Authorities.

Each painful reminiscence of the birthday go to has come flooding again to me with renewed agony as extra particulars emerge of how those that ran the nation throughout the pandemic, and imposed its wretched guidelines on the remainder of us, have been so able to flout them themselves.

What I might have given to spend that final birthday with Nigel in a spacious London backyard, sipping a glass of fantastic wine and laughing and not using a care on the planet – as he at all times made me really feel.

Particular permission had been granted for my birthday go to as a result of Nigel had persuaded the hospital’s most senior administrator personally.

How angry it has made me to think of myself and Nigel – who used to play tennis with Boris Johnson and considered himself a fan of the Prime Minister – were taken for fools by the Government

How indignant it has made me to consider myself and Nigel – who used to play tennis with Boris Johnson and thought of himself a fan of the Prime Minister – have been taken for fools by the Authorities

His case was an emergency: intravenous antibiotics have been being pumped into his 6ft4in physique to battle sepsis. It was thought he’d turn out to be contaminated by means of his chemo port throughout 4 months of gruelling medical remedy.

I used to be so excited to see him – however he was clearly a weakened soul.

I had introduced a small picnic to attempt to make it an event, however the ever-polite Nigel struggled to the touch it. He had misplaced stones in weight: his trousers have been falling off, his face was sunken, his pores and skin so pale. As I appeared into his brown eyes, I used to be terrified at his deterioration.

However I didn’t need to frighten him by saying that out loud.

At one stage, my gaze wandered over Nigel’s head, as he sat forlornly in a chair within the foyer. A supply man walked in from the street exterior and waited with a parcel exterior the raise just a few ft from us. He wasn’t carrying a masks – and I used to be so enraged I took a photograph of him on my telephone. I additionally took a snap of an unmasked hospital affected person leaving the identical raise and going exterior to smoke a cigarette. There wasn’t a look or a rebuke from the hospital’s reception desk.

Clearly, there have been already pandemic guidelines for some however not for others on this hospital – simply as, over in Downing Road that very same day, the glasses have been being polished and the visitor checklist totted up.

Like 1000’s of others obeying the principles – typically at large private value – I really feel as if I’ve been laughed at by the hypocrites stalking the corridors of energy. I realise that Nigel and I have been cheated of our time collectively in his ultimate days.

We have been desperately eager to see one another, messaging each other 18 occasions a day as he was incarcerated in a room on the hospital with no visits allowed.

By then, Nigel stated his nurses had informed him the hospital was overwhelmed with Covid and non-Covid sufferers being transferred there by a Nationwide Well being Service unable to manage.

Nigel had been recognized with bile-duct most cancers in January 2020. Quickly after he started chemotherapy, he collapsed and have become delirious. It was, stated the oncologists, attributable to a ‘thriller an infection’.

His ultimate hospital go to was two weeks earlier than my birthday, when the non-public medical doctors rang our house to say checks confirmed he had the thriller an infection once more and should go in instantly.

I went with him in a black cab to the hospital’s door.

I used to be hurried away after being informed he can be remoted in a single room due to the pandemic (though he by no means examined optimistic for Covid at any stage). I might not be allowed to see him and nor would any of his household.

I couldn’t communicate to the medical doctors head to head. The consequence was that I couldn’t stand by his bedside and battle his nook as a

loving accomplice ought to. He was completely alone. Then got here my heart-wrenching birthday. I’ve appeared up our messages and emails simply beforehand.

‘Come quickly,’ stated Nigel, who admitted he was struggling even to kind on his cellular as a result of he felt so ailing.

I stated I had my telephone underneath my pillow and would run to his facet evening or day – if I used to be allowed. On my birthday, Could 20, I sat within the non-public hospital foyer and waited for him. Nigel got here down within the raise, a feminine nurse serving to him, earlier than collapsing into the chair and handing me a birthday card to ‘SD’, his nickname for me, which stood for ‘Sue Darling’.

‘Darling SD,’ he wrote. ‘How may I not point out at this time the way you remodeled my life whenever you let me into your coronary heart? In return, for the long run, you’ll carry my love with you wherever you go. I am keen on you, Nigel.’ Once I learn the phrases, proper in entrance of him, I realised that he knew his finish was close to.

A pure insurgent, I broke the hospital’s guidelines by slipping rapidly behind his chair to carry him in my arms for a second or two: to whisper in his ear that I adored him, too, and to really feel the heat of his cheek.

And simply as I did so, that jolly night occasion was starting only some miles away, attended by these women and men who had made Nigel and I so scared of touching when he was already so close to to demise. Seven days later, Nigel was despatched house.

He handed away on our couch after 36 hours with out one other phrase from the hospital. We held one another beforehand, as my birthday card with Nigel’s lovely, enduring message to me rested on the mantelpiece.

And people treasured moments are one thing the suspected rulebreakers of No 10 can by no means take away from us, nonetheless contemptible their very own behaviour.