It's perhaps a shame that George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) didn't die of diarrhoea – as his overarching linguistic cleverness certainly suggests a form of verbal runniness... We can console ourselves with the thought that there was a time when he thought he might, at least according to this biographer. Happily, one can still stay at the Hotel Beau-Site and imagine Bernard Shaw's torment.
Our last meeting was in the summer of 1928. He had come to the Riviera for a six weeks’ holiday from his labours on The Apple Cart, and… we finally fixed up a date to lunch together… But I had not figured on accidents. One happened to Shaw’s bowels. He wrote explaining, or perhaps I should say complaining:
August 10th, 1928
My Dear F.H.,
I can’t come to-morrow. Yesterday I was smitten with the most undignified form of maladie du pays. My interior became a mere cave of the winds and waters; and I lay about unable to keep on my legs longer than ten minutes at a time.
To-day, after a good night, I am able to sit up and write and take my meals (such as they are) out of doors. The winds have subsided, but not the waters; and I dare not venture out of reach of the appropriate seat until I am normally decent in that respect. I therefore propose Wednesday instead of to-morrow. By that time I shall be either quite well or dead.
(Frank Harris – Bernard Shaw 1931)
"When will the waters subside?..."