Have you noticed – I only blog when I am worried.

Like busses, my health tests tend to come along all at once. Within the last 10 days I have had: my regular hospital blood tests, National Amyloidosis Centre tests part one, more of those to come on Thursday and Friday, glaucoma tests, more of those to come in June, and PSA tests, results today – not doubt more tests required. Ominous letters from the hospital and emails containing incomprehensible results are as common as TV adverts inviting subscriptions to funeral plans or ‘no fuss cremations’ ‘in afternoon episodes of Antiques Road Trip. Nothing blunts your appetite for the transitory absurdity of life than frequent reminders of death. What is deliciously fragile but full of promise morphs into a one way trip to nowhere land. Nothing sinister to report so far I am glad to say but I wish my tests were distributed a bit more evenly throughout the year so that my petty anxieties were less compacted – speaking of compacted I have to go to the dentist to have my newly minted and very expensive temporary tooth thing, yes you’ve guessed it, tested. But on the subject of health here is an interesting thing: my blood pressure is super good – miles better than usual – I could claim it’s all the sports and healthy eating I practice but I can only assume it’s the drugs I have been taking for 15 years taking their time to have any effect. Either that or I am very very chill, but the evidence (see above) is that I am really really not.

I am truly truly sick of health stuff. It not a subject that interests me even when it my health being discussed. ‘How’s it going Chris?’ or worse ‘How are you coping Chris?’ usually provokes an impatient ‘fine’ accompanied by a look of “Really! do you care!” “Do I care to discuss it” – It’s frightening, boring, time consuming, brain consuming, cash consuming (first class tickets to London (in order to avoid Covid close encounters) to the NAC this week). It also causes me to exhaust myself performing the role of how brave I am, how devil may care I am, how resigned I am to the progressive decline of all my faculties until my body is towed to that great scrapheap in the sky like my gold Ford Cortina did in 1983 and Maria’s Ford Focus did just last week. Yep her car died an unspectacular death at the hands of Leon the mechanic  whose graveside prayer comprised ‘Well if all goes well it will be a grand and if it don’t, it will be two and a half grand.’ So the next day we bought an old, but red and shiny Kia, the cheapest car they had in the garage leaving them with a dead Focus, a full spare can of diesel and one of those magnet things to hold your mobile phone on the dashboard which Maria has asked them to recover form the scrappy (this was embarrassing) but not as embarrassing as trying to drive off in the Kia when neither of us could figure out how to start it (depress the clutch)- and then subsequently pulling up to get petrol, accruing a heathy queue and then realising we didn’t know how to open the petrol cap. Tip: when you first get a car read the manual.

I just want to think sunny thoughts do sunny things and dance the night away in a state of splendid euphoria, but while bits of me are in the process of unpredictable decline, sunny thoughts can prove illusive. The secret is to be busy or asleep or watch telly. So I do a combination of those three. TV starts for us at about 7:30. Maria insists it’s light hearted with no subtitles as she has to look down while she’s eating – huh? Just look up and spill it down your front I say – and do. (Important –  remember not to do a zoom meeting with your students with the remnants of last nights pasta adhered to the shirt, one might have slept in, presented in close up.) By 8:00 we are into subtitles or subtitles + gore + brutality and angst. By 9:00 we are both in a state of high anxiety after an hour sharing the suicidal Finish detectives battle with addiction and a brutish and insightless boss and the case of the dismembered girl found by her mother in a suitcase left at the school gates.  So we watch Inspector  Montalbano so that Maria can practice her Italian (Sicilian) I can become utterly confounded by the plot within the first three minutes and we can both relish the moments in true pre ‘me too’ style that Montalbano’s lieutenant helps solve the case by sleeping with the principal suspect who happens to be the spitting image of Gina Lollobrigida only with fewer clothes on. Then it’s bed. I sleep like a baby for 5 hours straight, assisted by the chemotherapy and beta blockers both of which seem to act like anaesthetics. I wake at 4:00, quite often more than ready to do something important. I love the early morning, it’s the most optimistic part of the day and I am quite often super energised. I actually relish a bath at 5:00 am listening to the world service or farming today with a mug of tea propped next to some experimental soap product likely to end up being used for purposes it is not designed to fulfil. I think particularly of the shampoo bar I use as shaving soap, definitely the best shaving soap ever and the conditioner I used as body wash (less successful, rather greasy and no lather to speak of). My morning energies are currently directed to endless marking (blah!) and to three potential conference opportunities to demonstrate my phone box art in order of increasing scariness – namely: Hull, Newcastle, Prague so I have been spending my spare hours reconfiguring ‘the red telephone box that talks a bit like me’ http://k6.gravityisahat.co.uk/ such that I can live video broadcast from it (thus not having to physically attend the conference) with all the audio complexity under my control from within the box rather than in my studio in the house. I have successfully managed this temporary transformation but have created a new challenge. Manual and mind dexterity is not my strong point – so imagine me cooped up inside this small, sometimes boiling hot space manipulating a mixer, laptop running complicated live broadcast software, a microphone, a webcam, a mobile phone, an iPad and a 1937 telephone dial and receiver. (Case in point – tested this at the weekend and attempted to make a 30 second video to include here – i left the video recording for and 1hr and 29 minutes filling my phones memory and then accidentally deleted the lot – this is indicative of my technical incompetence when i have to manage more than one device at once) I feel like RickWakeman in Journey to the Centre of the Earth, (one of the more disasterous 1970’s concept albums) wearing a magicians cape and 18 inch flares while wrestling with what looked to be the innards of Jodrell Bank only to produce the sounds  of incredibly over amplified 80’s video games slowed down a lot. Initially I was embarrassed by the dog walkers seeing this weirdo all wrapped up in technology talking to himself inside a phone box but now I am used to it and have been known to be in there in my dressing gown at 6:00 am, greeting a villager with a friendly wave with no explanation requested or provided.

I suspect I am becoming known as the local nutter. So that’s good news.

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