Sunday, September 26, 2010

My old man

There are things that irritate me about my husband. Currently:

* He drives at a million miles an hour if someone is behind us on bendy French roads because" they get annoyed if you don't"

* He can't go a day without visiting a do-it-yourself shop and standing for hours fondling various screws and brackets

* He has always just read the greatest book ever and goes on about it to everyone

* He worries about everything, the fosse (septic tank), the boiler, Rupert Murdoch, the attention span of today's kids.


He makes me laugh, we love the same things and people, we agree about all the important things like politics and religion and since the very worst he could imagine ever happening, happened, he has been fantastic about it. About leio and how he now shares my life and might in fact run off with me sooner rather than later. He has played along religiously with my let's not let it ruin what time we do have philosophy, he has become fonder, he never let's me see him feeling sad even if we both know just how much he is; he makes me tea in bed.

I cannot conceive of what it will be like, no comfortable silence, no quirky shared smiles, no punch on the arm on waking. It's too much for him to lose. Which is why when he read out this poem chosen by our friends, Chris and Denise, at their recent wedding (after 26 years together!) I wept, like them, but for different reasons I hope:

For What Binds Us
by Jane Hirshfield

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—
And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The bearded lady

In yesterday's Guardian there was an article telling us we should learn to love our facial hair. Apparently there is a group called Hairey Awarey that is proposing that we embrace our beards and flaunt our hirsute extremities. I have always quite liked my facial hair because frankly I didn't have much, certainly not enough to get into a clinch with. But of late I am becoming more hairey aware, you see the hair is not just coming back onto my head but also onto my chin in soft, pale, but really quite long, sort of down. I am pleased that this might now be the height of chic but still shudder as I see it glowing and waving as I pass the mirror. So this morning, not wishing to be a slavish follower of fashion, I got Stewart to give it a quick clip with his beard trimmer.

I hope this doesn't mean I will have to start shaving on a regular basis because I couldn't even keep up with my legs before the chemo and fuzz is starting to grow back there too. But luckily I will have no need for a Brazilian or other exotic trims on my rude bits, the radiotherapy did for them in more ways than one.

I was right wasn't I? Cancer treatments do have a great deal of the absurd and bizarre about them; in fact it's all quite hairy as you will observe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Read any good books lately

I was reading A Fair Balance by Rohinton Mistry on the way here. It's the book I stole or swapped, in fact, from the German hospital where I had my lung zapped. I had abandoned it, gathering dust next to my bed, because the print was very small and I kept nodding off as I screwed up my eyes to try to make out the blurry bits. Armed with my new glasses I picked it up again and got hooked. It's a happy tale of castration, amputation, hanging, starvation and slums but it manages to have its funny moments.

Even so as light relief after polishing it off I turned to Adrian Mole's latest diary The Prostrate(sic) Years. What do you know it's all about cancer, poor old Adrian; and of course it's a hoot. It doesn't quite wring out the full absurdity of radiotherapy and chemo and what it does to you but my smile kept wrying. And that Sue Townsend, they say that blind people have better hearing than the rest of us, it must be so, she must have heard, all the way from Leicester, my husband muttering about the impossibility of finding a proper sandwich and not one slathered in mayonnaise; words put into the mouth of the hapless Adrian. Perhaps my husband is Adrian Mole, he keeps threatening to write to the Prime Minister too, he is 25 years older of course and has a much better prostate and taste in women but ..there is the cardigan.

I'm now reading a book by a woman called Fred about murders that mimic the Black Death, that should be a laugh a minute too.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Maumont

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey
The ways deep and the weather sharp"

Well it's only September, but the boat was delayed because of a south westerly gale and then it drizzled for 500 miles through France. We kept seeing blue skies ahead but they were mysteriously always ahead until, that is, we reached Maumont and it was warm and sunny and we felt welcomed back.

This morning we have been to the market, we saw wild boar and a red squirrel on the way and they saw us and knew we were back or so I like to think. In Bethune we felt baby bumps or maybe bums and Julie introduced us to Bill and Ben or whatever they will be called.

A lot of hellos therefore and so far, so good, no goodbyes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Beating the odds

It was exactly a year ago today if you go by the days not the date, when I asked how long he said an average of a year. So if I make it to tomorrow I am beating the odds. I feel fine except on Tuesday morning I slipped on the stair of an inn that has certainly beaten the odds and made it to 500 years old. So now I have a bruised bum and jarred operation bits.

It's a funny old life when you have a death sentence hanging over you. I think I will make it to 02/11 and so my credit card will expire before I do. Not sure about the passport though 2015 for that one. The really good thing is I can take on long contracts for stuff and not let them know I may run out before they do.

The latest is an IPhone, not the new version I am not posh enough for that, but the one before that. Each of my friends and family who have one of these little beauties has assured me, separately, that it is going to change my life (but perhaps not my life expectancy). So far it's just meant that I feel really old as I struggle with syncing, or sinking in my case, and that I have spent this morning retyping in my contacts because I couldn't work out how to sync those with my old phone or my PC. I have also forgotten the password to our wireless connection so can't put that in either.

Yesterday when it came in its wrapping and today as I cocked up most of the names I was typing in on the super sensitive touch screen, I realised yet again how useful fingernails are and how, literally, ham-fisted you feel without them. Earlier I had actually wept as I tried to put on my brand new compression stocking, I had to keep lying down between lunges at the unrelenting fabric with my soft shell fingertips.

So my days over the odds have so far been hampered by the shock of the new but I will get Jess round and get her to prove to me how the dratted phone is going to change my life and later on today either by IPhone or by my old and trusty laptop I will book our crossing to France and from next Tuesday we will live out a few more bonus and, hopefully, IPhone transformed days in Gallic peace and tranquility.