Starting to get a bit “clever dick.”

Time for another update.

Peppered with pretentiousness for your, but mainly my delight. Well why jolly well not.

It occurs to me that I am trying too hard to mint great literature. I think it because I know so many of my audience are so much more literate than me. We also have a good number of teachers in our community who tend to be able to spell proper. So this time, apart from the corrections imposed by my ipad I will endeavour not to go back over things or to think too hard. I don’t want this to turn into some sort of competitive show off particularly using any measure of wittiness – something I am not at all comfortable with.

Later that evening – well that didn’t work – just read it and tidied it a bit – no confidence in my stream of consciousness spelling and grammar.

This week M and I have been at a hospital for 4 out of 5 weekdays. So it must be getting quite a bore for M although she says not – she is actually really completely the best person in the world. We are certainly reading and writing lot while waiting a lot.

The experience at Y continues to be quite a party. I had a new nurse this week who had started out as a district nurse and consequently her technique with the injection in the stomach was immaculate – this was the first time it didn’t hurt at all – straight in like a dart –  2 secs later out and  done. She promised next week she would stand me against the wall and throw it. I was very grateful for the thoroughness and professionalism that they always show as one of my semi lethal potions was actually the wrong dose and because of the double checking cross referencing procedure they spotted it and gave me the right dose. Phew! It does cause you to think twice when your medication arrives labeled ‘toxic biohazard.’

Word of warning to anyone who has to go through this sort of experience. Beware of contagious anxiety caused by crowded hospital environments. I was feeling more than relaxed about H because I knew they had already diagnosed my condition and I had had all the available bad news from my consultant. On day two of the tests we found ourselves waiting with quite a few people getting initial diagnosis and they were crapping themselves. Suddenly I started to relive those days before I knew what I had, so by the time I went to get my results I was pretty nervous even though I knew in advance what they were. Best to stick your headphones on and remain isolated from the vibe when the room is crowded either that or you may pick up on bits of conversation and speculation that are not comforting to say the least.

Yesterday and today we have spent at in H. G, A and A all came to see us so we had a really fun evening with awful food at the P followed by a really nice lunch the following day in some posh square in H actually sitting outside a vets.

I have already raved about the service from the R which has been immaculate – chauffeured down from Y, nice hotel etc. The tests were quite weird and included rushing up and down a corridor for 6 minutes to see how out of breath I got and being made radioactive. Apparently one show off had sprinted it  achieving 35 laps, nearly a kilometre. Umpteen scans most of which (without wishing to appear pervy) were conducted by various very attractive young women who had the pleasure of stroking every part of my bony ivory body with a range of probes and scanners. And it being a  research centre they don’t wear those bloody awful NHS uniforms – thus being commanded to take my clothes off by a young woman wearing a short skirt looking much like one of my students was principally grossly humiliating but in retrospect not without a certain vividness. Don’t worry ‘her indoors’ was with me in the room. Gaud my bony ivory body must have been  such a turn on for them. The only test which turned slightly farcical was the all important one in some machine that could read where all the bad stuff was. I was obliged to remain stock still for 30 minutes and encouraged to listen to my choice of entertainment. I had to take my glasses off and it was only once the machine had started did I realise that I had put the player on fast play so my whole episode of desert island discs played in a thrice as if Kirsty Young was on speed – then silence for the remaining 20 minutes. I must admit this test was conducted by a relatively austere but pleasant Australian male technician but he did let me turn on a mini recorder to record the room ambience for my radio play. I was looking forward to lots of electronic medical  sounds In fact the machine was as silent as my episode of desert island discs. So I now have 30 minutes of air conditioning sounds.

Results were as expected and I have bad stuff on the liver but no bad stuff anywhere else too important. Best news is the heart is very good. So the problems remain centred around the cancer itself and I don’t have to come back to London for another year – (GOOD). As far as the cancer itself I may be a candidate for the drastic stem cell rebuild or not (depending on a blood in poo test) either way there are ways and means to treat but not cure my condition. So really no change and most important no really bad news. So back to Y hospital tomorrow for darts and the drug that gives me the flu … Joy!

So far I have had one verbose rebuttal, one sulk, several tellings off, some unwarranted praise, a number of promises not to think of me, a couple of ironic prayers and any number of cat (or variants on cat) videos – so I am delighted and kept wonderfully amused. Please keep em coming.

Please don’t be either hurt or intimidated if I copy the odd thing you have sent me on to the list. I assume if you are writing to me, unless you so specify, that any juicy bits are distributable within this limited public domain – for example my neighbour G gave such a spirited rebuttal of my last vent that I think it should be circulated in full – apart from the stuff about choral evensong which is clearly wrong the rest is probably right, so all you closet or not so closet right wingers out there take comfort this list is more “catholic” than you think. Seriously some of you need to read more closely what I actually said about my ridiculous prejudices before you think I don’t love you anymore. I have added G’s rebuttal  to the end of this e-mail.

You may have noticed there is a distinctly middle class vibe about this community. I find it interesting perhaps a bit disappointing that my range of ‘interested parties’ is in some respects so limited to that narrow range of people I feel comfortable with. There are no representatives from the proletariat nor from the aristocracy despite numerous opportunities to acquire these sort of friends throughout my life I find my self stuck with you lot, a load of people very much like me. So the danger is to remain unchallenged  in so many ways. Other than G there seems to be a broad acceptance of my nonsense which I can only put down to the curse of middle class politeness something I really do dislike (nah not really). Having grown up intellectually in  theatre I love to be challenged by grumpy actors and singers who think my ideas are crap. The academic community in general are terrified of this sort of direct engagement with passionate argument something much to its detriment in my view. So please follow G’s lead and if I say something that makes your bold boil – let me have it!!!!

Actually I think I am out of rants for now. My key ones have been expressed and as a consequence I may get bored with this process and jack the circulars in. We’ll see.

I am being sent so many stimulating new leads into literature, poetry, engineering, philosophy and music I now feel really spoilt for choice.

Here is G’s rebuttal – with his permission.

That’s it

Dear Chris,

Much enjoyed your extended bout of intellectual flatulence, which you have just forwarded to J. I fear that I cannot be your ‘friend’ as I do not meet two of your key criteria, namely ‘on the left’ and ‘atheist’ but I am happy to plead guilty to ‘inconsistency’ and ‘cynicism about beliefs’ and may or may not be ‘amoral’ and ‘tolerant’. I fear I am tolerant of capitalism which over three centuries has done more to alleviate human poverty and misery than any number of left wing nostrums.

Clearly being on the left tends to assume an acceptance of a belief system and supporting the Worker’s Revolutionary Party puts one in the same class of believing loonies as Flat Earthers and Cornish Wicca People( and this may be being exceptionally unkind to the latter.)I shall pray for you to be rescued from the hands of revolutionary fanatics and placed within the safe bounds of the Anglican Church and the Tory Party.The Tory Party,(Thatcher, who was an aberration, notwithstanding) has a profound suspicion of belief and ideology and the Anglican Church makes a virtue out of theological inconsistency. It is clearly your spiritual home. You can almost get away with atheism within it.Cranmer’s Service, untouched by modernising morons of the twentieth century,should meet your exacting artistic criteria and Cathedral choral Evensong can still express better than almost anything else, what Archbishop Laud described as the ‘beauty of holiness.’

I look forward through the efficacy of my prayers to a wholesale conversion on your part and a return to our  consumption of fine wine together

yours prayerfully


And here is my rebuttal of G’s rebuttal

Dear G

You are definitely my friend and so is J!!!

I think yours is a classic rebuttal and if you don’t mind I would like to circulate it with my next circular. Can I do that?  It was also very funny indeed!

I can’t defend my prejudices and as I tried to make clear I am not proud of them. I actually agree intellectually with everything you say – I think that was the point I was trying to make – namely it is intellectually acceptable to hold contradictory views depending on your “system state” at any one particular time. Just like a computer program we go through a series of state transitions depending on fluctuating value of the variables at any one time. In other words everything is temporary and nothing is dumber than seeking to verbalise truth, any truth, scientific, religious, political or dare I say historical  – “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

But silence is uncommonly dull at dinner parties so it’s better to come up with something – SWP, God whatever and ‘fessing up’  exposing ones shallow prejudices seem to me the only way to achieve some honor in a thoroughly dishonorable game. Wittgenstein again  “Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.”

You are wrong though about the music thing –choral evensong and even Bach is ‘musical flatulence’ in comparison with the great Italian catholic heart-on sleeve outpourings by the likes of Monteverdi, Rossini, Verdi or Puccini,  or of course Elgar; (an English Catholic) as you probably know.

But if you don’t know it check this section out from Dream of Gerontius – it turned me into an Atheist Catholic.

Go forth upon thy journey, Christian soul!

Go from this world! Go, in the Name of God

The Omnipotent Father, who created thee!

… etc

Yours ‘truly’


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