(p. 279) Selected Drawings
These drawings and doodles have been selected from some of Winnicott’s letters and notes, and are intended to show the easy playfulness he brought to his domestic life.
The end of a letter to Joyce Coles, 25 August 1968, from Winnicott’s childhood home, Rockville, in Plymouth. The complete letter reads:
Thank you for your bureaucratic assistance. I’m glad you will be having a weekend next weekend which being a weekend gives a weekend to everybody except those who are permanently asleep, which might be me. I’ve done nothing at all, except suddenly drive the car out after tea for picnic suppers. The fact is that I am much older than I was, and I have only to be on holiday to realise that holiday does not restore youthfulness—in fact it can destroy the illusion of youthfulness by bringing one up against the physical limitations which are absurd unless one is old. However I did manage to fall down from a tree, gracefully, as…’
Winnicott was seventy-two years old. His dry self-description is movingly illuminated in a story told by Clare Winnicott to the interviewer Michael Neve in 1983 (Free Associations, 3:167–184):
But then he’d had about six coronaries, and recovered from them and kept himself going. And didn’t stop himself doing a thing! When he went down (p. 285) to his home in Devon, he’d be up at the top of a tree, in the last year of his life. A few months before he died, he was at the top of a tree, cutting the top off. I said, ‘What the hell are you doing up there?’
He said, ‘Well, I’ve always wanted the top of this tree off. It spoils the view from our window’. Which it did! And he got it off.
And I thought, ‘I must get him down! He’s absolutely crazy’. And I thought, ‘No, it’s his life and he’s got to live it. If he dies after this, he dies’.
But this was him. He wanted to live.