I have lost my way writing for this blog. I don’t know who or what its for. It started out as therapy and then became a soapbox to make vacuous political gestures (regret, regret regret), then a family diary for showing off about my loved ones, (that probably just pisses people off) then a platform for me to show off about my projects, (that probably just bores people) then a platform for Tuffin to show off (does anyone but me care about my attempts at telling Tuffin’s story) and now I don’t know what it is. I haven’t lost interest, but I have lost my way.
It came about through cancer and that hasn’t gone away however its narrative potential has diminished as ‘cancer world’ has become more routine for me.
I go for tests, things go up and down, I take drugs, I get results, I go for more tests, I have trouble parking the car at the hospital it’s so busy and crowded I think I am going to be late, I start to panic, no reason they always wait, I leave my mask in the car, I go back for it, approach the hospital door that opens automatically the wrong way potentially smacking you in the face (maybe a way to generate more custom) report to a very tiny receptionist at the magnolia centre (why name the cancer centre it after a dreary emulsion paint – he he he) whose arms worry me, they are so thin I wonder if she is a patient seconded to reception, she’s always really nice though, I have to stand and wait in a queue, they only allow a limited number to sit inside, I look forward to sitting, I look forward to sitting in all settings (home, work, country walks, beaches etc), in I go, get weighed, have to take my shoes off this time, didn’t have to last time so didn’t wear my slip-ons, laces, what a drag, bending over what a drag, must not fart, bent at this angle compressing belly a distinct possibility, finally sit, next to bald gay guy with partner who looks really poorly, can barely walk, feel very sorry for him but secretly glad I am not that poorly, I smile, he doesn’t, I connect to eduroam super-fast university network that all academics can access in any university in the UK, York is a teaching hospital so it’s available all over the site, super fast browsing of E-bay to check out ‘Evans table lighters’ all too expensive cos of postage from US, French vintage telephones from France similarly out of range cos of VAT and postage from Europe which is about as expensive as that from the US (why?), oh Brexiteers what have you done – scuppered my ‘ancien telephone’ collecting hobby, called by a nurse for blood test, usual amusing fiasco cos NAC (where the sample gets sent) requires phlebotomist to use ‘vacutainers’ which require a special attachment to avoid two jabs for patient (apparently not cool for phlebotomists reputation) that York NHS doesn’t use, my suggestion to just squirt the blood into the test tube is rejected and he threatens to go to try to find an attachment (it’s a sort of a ‘hoselok’ system) I say don’t bother, just make two holes I don’t mind, nope he’s out the door down the corridor for what I know to be a fruitless search, I loll about on the blood taking chair and watch the analyst do whatever she does with other peoples samples, she is Eastern European and I turn on the charm to demonstrate how much I love Eastern Europeans in case she feels unwelcome (thanks again Brexiteers), I subject her to a series of inane questions about the blood test process that I really don’t want an answer to but I am stuck like a record in a groove and cant move on till the phlebotomist returns empty handed and goes reluctantly to get the amazing delightful specialist nurse Helen (who I am actually in love with) who immediately assembles a chemistry set of ‘hoselok’ adapters, clicks then together and completely painlessly syphons off the necessary sample, back to EBay to glide through postcards of Eynsford (always the same ones on sale) and Yamaha Xg accessories to discover I am sitting on a goldmine of 80’s technology that has come back into fashion), nothing doing in the ‘seaside memorabilia’ collection either, so reply to the slew of university emails inviting me to do staff development in areas I didn’t know needed developing, I still haven’t got to grips with decolonising the curriculum without falling no into the trap of cultural appropriation so I sign up for some much needed help, my consultant calls my name and in a fluster I drop my phone, my waterproof, my glasses and my dignity, gather them all up, stick them all under my arm and trying to look fit and feisty I scamper after him, I have no idea why I am possessed by a sense of urgency but I note it’s contagious, everyone in here does it, it’s as though the last consultant train is leaving the platform and you need to get on before the doors close, he is very chill, asks how I am, I say fine, he says good, any new symptoms, no, looks at my numbers pronounces them fine, suggests we carry on as we are, I agree, tells me to call if anything changes, and go wait in waiting room for pharmacist to bring drugs, meantime bald gay guy and partner have gone so I take a chair near where I know the pharmacist will appear thus avoiding embarrassing waving or shouting when she can’t locate me, offload my arm load of junk and try to reorganise myself, another panic when I can’t find mobile, much frantic patting of every pocket I own until I locate it wrapped in my waterproof under my arm, Jeez I am actually getting old and doddery and stupid, heart rate subsides in time for the pharmacist to deliver a plastic bag of goodies, she offers to explain them, I adopt my professional patient mode and decline, something I will regret once I am at home, say thanks to whatever nurses I pass on my way past the thin receptionist through the smacking door and after yet another ‘early onset’ ballet of pocket patting I pay a modest mortgage for 2 hours use of the multistorey and hit the road back home.
In case you missed the last line of Tuffin 22 it is … Oh yes I go to school now.
Our village has a famous river. It is famous because it is shallow so you can walk in it with wellingtons without getting wet socks at all and it has a track through it that lorries can drive through if they are too big for the bridge. So it isn’t really a river it is more of a road with a river running on top. Common people’s cars from Dartford or East Hill don’t use the bridge instead they break the rules and show off by going through the river very fast and making a big wave that fills your wellingtons and probably kills lots of fish. My dad always hopes they get stuck and water gets in the engine and ruins it. At weekends lots of common people’s children come to shout and splash in the river with just their pants on and throw stones and water at each other and at us. I hate them because they don’t know the rules. Luckily they have me to teach them. The bridge is only wide enough for one car small at a time. It is so narrow that it has places to hide at the top so that people don’t get squashed by the cars. I like to stand on guard stopping the small children from getting in hoping they will get killed. That way they will learn the rules like we have to at school. Rules for waiting or eating and playing and drinking from the water fountain and running and going to the toilet without wetting the walls or getting gravel in your knees or spilling ink and getting hit for not folding your arms, and writing in the lines and colouring in the lines and standing in lines with nowhere to hide to avoid being killed.
When I grow up, I won’t have to go to school, and I won’t have to hide.