Monday, June 28, 2010


Living deep in the French countryside is wonderful, it's peace and quiet and green and rolly; it's gooey cheese, crusty bread and meaty meat BUT it's buggy as well. Apologies to readers in Australia who have bugs and spiders the size of houses, but us temporate climate townies just aren't used to it. Mostly the spiders are just those spindly ghosty ones that are not too bad except they spread their pesky webs all over my maison; and don't tell me they eat all the insects because clearly they do not, because there are hundreds of them of varying sizes and colours, flying and otherwise moving their families into live with us. Spiders clearly have a good PR agency working for them but I don't believe a word of it and because they are no damn good at their job I vac them up with a woosh or bash them with my shoe if I can bear to get that close. Stewart has designed a fly catching method with the Dyson too, he creeps up behind them where their compound eyes can't see and sucks them right up, whether they then become a meal for the ghostly spiders I don't know.

I am worried about the bad karma though, a few vile specimens with antennae far too long for their bodies take some bashing and keep on struggling to live, I apologise profusely as I bash them again and again but I am sure I am playing with fire, fates wise. Despite this am hoping that the other blight of the region the dreaded mosquito is going to leave me alone this summer, usually I am to them as egg and chips or fois gras entier is to me but I have filled my blood with very nasty chemicals and maybe I don't taste so good anymore. For that reason I am risking venturing outside at night without benefit of anti-moustique, worrying of course that the insect world will rise up as one in vengeance for their squashed cousins and eat me alive.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Glad to be here

I am glad to be here full stop but especially glad to be in France at our little house. Mind you it has felt très grande over the last couple of days as I have had to clean every bit of it. We had some building work done and on top of that we haven't been here for five months if you dont count our abortive trip in May when all I did was notice the dirt and add it mournfully to my chapter of woes. This time I have at least found the energy to wash all the bits and pieces we have spread about the place and trail around the supermarche getting delicious French goodies so I am getting better. Or at least I am recovering from the chemo, all I hope is that the cancer cells aren't feeling energised and going on their travels too.

We stopped at Giverny on the way down and visited Monet's house and garden. The main bit of the garden which claimed to be in the English style, frankly needed to try harder but oh the bit over the road, the water lily ponds that he painted so often, were breathtaking, I could have sat their all day losing my breath without help from shrunken mets or post-operative scarring. I liked his house too and noticed that everything was gleaming, methinks Monsieur Monet didn't do any of the scrubbing and probably not Madame either. This probably explains why I have not become a great master to date or indeed a great mistress, too much scrubbing to do.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Smaller by half

The blobs have shrunk! funny one in the abdomen by about a half and liver and lung ones all looking smaller. The oncologist seemed pleased and he has given me two months off before I see him again; the chemo will still be working for a few weeks apparently and then we need to leave a space to see what happens. This suits us perfectly and so we are off to France like a shot and will stay there till the end of August all being well. I am so relieved that all that nasty smelly, sicky, knackering chemo has shown some results. I know I still have the little buggers inside me and they are not going to disappear but they are littler now and maybe stalled for a bit in their tracks.

More good news is that we don't have a telly in France so I won't have to put up with the drone of the vuvuzelas or the even worse drone of the dreaded football commentary. England are about to play, I expect less from that than I did from the scans so who knows what might happen; we might even stop throwing the ball into our own goal.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

scans with a difference

Scans can be a good thing, they don't always show up ugly blobs that are taking over your body, sometimes they show beautiful blobs that are taking over your body and so it is with us. Julie and Sam (No 1 son) are expecting twins and they now measure 8cm each and yesterday's scan showed that they were hanging on in there and looking very well, tres bien, thank you. So now I can tell the world. It is truly wonderful news, Julie has been on a parallel track to me for the last few weeks, taking the medicine, talking to the experts (and not just me and her Mom), watching her blobs change and feeling sick and knackered. But hers we have willed to grow whereas mine we want to shrivel; even if we only get one out of two of those results it is a very happy outcome; and we get double joy anyway, two babies to add to our crew.

All I have to do now is stay alive and kicking so I can help them when they have these two babies plonked in their arms and dish out a bit of my nah don't listen to that rubbish type advice while I can.

They will be Anglo-French babies of course, born and bred in France but brought up Brummie and Bergercoises: faggots (apologies American readers over here a faggot is a savoury food item made from animal innards!)and fois gras. For now they are lovely 8cm active shapes on a scan; tomorrow I hope to see something much smaller and slower on mine. But till then all I can say is vive la difference and sorry Julie I can't do accents in this programme.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Raised eyebrows

Despite spending £20 on special stuff that was supposed to save them, my eyebrows have deserted me. It's amazing what a difference it makes to your face so I am attempting to draw new ones on each morning. If only my A level art education had covered face painting and if only I had been one of those women who learnt how to do such things by trial and error in her youth. I only ever plucked my eyebrows once because everyone else seemed to be doing it and it was such an eyewateringly painful experience that I have never tried since; anyway I now find that my brow was quite nice. As the song said - you don't know what you've got till it's gone.

So now I stare at people's faces and realise that eyebrows sit much lower than you might imagine and are much thicker than the ones I have been attempting to replicate. The trouble is that you have two of the darned things so you have to try to make them look the same and of course, as clowns know so well, eyebrows give your face expression so it's easy to end up looking shocked on one side and confused on the other. That about sums me up at the moment so perhaps it's OK.

What I really need are perfect models of my old ones to just stick on, that would have been more useful than my wig which just sits unused in my bedroom getting lonelier and lonelier by the day.

The hair should start growing back on now of course as today is the day I normally would have been going back for chemo and it's finished so I am not yippee. I suppose I can expect strange thin eyebrows for a while, as well as men's type hair but I will buy restorer and perhaps as Harry (grandson aged 5) suggested yesterday as he watched my amateur eyebrow artistry, I could draw on hair all over.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pictures galore

Back from good old Sussex by the sea; we did see the sea briefly and the rain stayed away. On the way down we had the best pub meal we have ever had and it's perhaps not surprising as it was Heston Blumenthal's pub in Bray. It seems to be where his enterprise cook top dollar proper British food as I had slow roast pork belly with a sort of mush of peas that were nothing like mushy peas and Stewart had oxtail and kidney pudding and oh yes we had his triple cooked chips even though they were £4.50 a shot; they were worth every penny.

Apart from meandering around the beautiful Sussex Weald and eating in more good pubs we visited Charleston Farmhouse where the darlings of the Bloomsbury set fetched up in the first world war to farm instead of fight. It is a delightful place and it seems they spent all of their time painting every single surface, even coal scuttles and the sides of the bath. It's the sort of painting that you think - well I could do that. A load of criss crosses down the panels of a bookcase, circles above the picture rails but then I remember my one attempt at stenciling which left a block of smudged pattern stranded in our kitchen for years and realise it's probably harder than it looks.

The rooms in the house were all in fact quite small and it made me wonder about all of the psycho drama that was going on there and how they didn't end up killing each other. You know she was in love with him but he was gay; his boyfriend lived there too; they had a daughter who didn't know she was his and who married his ex-boyfriend years later but didn't know she had and all the time her (the first her!) husband still lived with them. On top of that they were never without visitors with very famous names, no wonder they had to go off and throw paint at the walls every five minutes.

I'm back now to face the prospect of pictures of my blobs, not so pretty perhaps as the Bloomsbury ones but I have a scan on Monday and an appointment with the oncologist on Friday so we will see if they have changed at all. I hope then to go off to France for as much of the summer as I can get out there; without a menage a trois of course and hopefully as boring as hell.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Catching a train

Tomorrow as part of our throw caution to the winds let's have a bloody good time philosophy we are off to Sussex to sleep in a train some posh bloke has done up and turned into a classy B & B. Our room will be an old Pullman carriage with a king-sized bed.

It wont be the first time we have slept together on a train and I have in fact slept with thousands of men in first and second class carriages all over the country. Yes I fear readers I have snored, snorted and dribbled in the company of strangers and colleagues on many occasions and on many a train. You know that hopeless attempt to cough and cover it up when a snore wakes you up; oh the shame of it.

Stewart and I first slept together on a train crossing the Alps when I was but 17 and he had earned enough working in the summer to take me to Florence and the Italian Riviera. Then we had a very discreet single couchettes and shared with a honeymoon couple similarly innocently bedded. We had earlier stuffed ourselves with the most amazing packed lunch that Stewart's Mom had put together for us thinking no doubt that we wouldn't be eating for the next fortnight; the honeymooners had looked on in wonder and it's no wonder.

Trains featured even earlier in our relationship when at the tender age of 15 I braved my first sole journey on a train to visit Stewart in London. He was a student then and I travelled on a Sunday; the day of course when British Rail or whoever owned the trains in 1965 decided to do major repairs. I was delayed by two hours and this of course was way before the days of mobile phones in fact most people didn't own a phone of any description. Stewart being older and wiser had set up a contingency whereby if I was late he would go every half an hour and wait at the National Gallery. A good plan but when I finally got off the train, it was at a different station to the one planned and I hadn't got a clue how to get to the National Gallery or any bloody gallery. I asked a friendly looking news vendor who just said whey hey nice pair of tits love and offered no other advice. Suffice it to say by the time I finally found my way to the National Gallery and waited for the next half hour to go round it was nearly time to come back. However the vision of him striding across Trafalgar Square after all of that was the most wonderful sight in the world and, on reflection, probably sealed my fate.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A treat a day

Everyday since I came out after the last chemo it is treat time. It's a good plan if not a tad expensive, usually it's a meal out so Saturday was excellent Thai in Moseley, Tuesday was lunch at Lasan's, very posh Indian in our trendy jewellery quarter, apparently they just won a competition on the telly in Gordon Ramsey's F word something or other, well the duck I had was F wording marvellous. Yesterday was lunch with Jess and posh dress, actually a jump suit, buying for her oldest friend's wedding next Friday and tonight we are off to the theatre to see "Noises off" and have a jolly good laugh, as long as I can hear it!

Not such a treat, I am off for an eye test this afternoon, my glasses are falling to bits because I keep treading on them, and I am peering blindly at things more; I try to kid myself I just need reading glasses but the truth will out; you have to wonder if it's worth the arm and leg they will cost but caution to the winds and who knows how long I will be around to see the world more clearly.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Things can only get...?

I suppose the difficult thing will be when it all starts to hurt; at the moment I have soreness at the top of my fat leg but it's not much and if I eat too much, sorry when I eat too much, I feel more bloated than usual. I do have an annoying cough and my right side ribs are a bit sore. In the past mostly when I have had a pain or some other symptom I have either let it run its course or taken something to get rid of it; the scary thing is now that probably wont work and I have only more of the same to look forward to; no more of the same but worse.

It still feels unknown however and I banish such thoughts, you know begone, into exile with you, leave this land; you are not worthy and don't think you can come back here with your legions and fancy ways and wheedle yourself back in to my fair domain; you are not wanted. Unfortunately sometimes my dreams have not caught up with this banishment and they will play their little games with me.

For now I feel well, relatively, and am banishing Greta Garbo and her wanting to be alone a tad. I am ready to meet the world again as long as it's germ free. Hedonism is the medicine of the moment.