Sunday, 3rd April, 2022
Another glorious start to the day. Sunday, a day of rest? No chance. Going to make it a very active one. At last, we’re up at normal time – 7.00 am. The underlying feeling of jetlag is gone and we can push ahead. Breakfast and then out for a couple of hour’s walking in the sunshine. We even did the woodland path this morning. It is a delightful retreat from the world.
When we got back, I had heard from Dr John Ridley. I had rebuked him for using my 1971 hairstyle to illustrate a talk he had been giving in North Yorkshire. Of course, I am used to being a figure of fun so my rebuke was very gentle and tongue-in-cheek. I am so enjoying reaching out my hand across the past half century to people in my past. It has generated real meaning for me.
One thing that has changed over that time is the greetings we exchange. It is not unusual for Julie to end her text with kisses. It is what girls do but Kevin, (KEVIN!!) does the same and I reciprocate! We would never have even considered it 50 years ago. Few men would. John Ridley is a gentle man as well as a gentleman. He ends his emails – With love to you. I am shocked to find how much that means to me.
While John’s story about me features my refusal to get my hair cut which is set against the short haircut I now sport, he has just published his latest picture which features more hair than he ever had as a young man. Unfortunately, it is not on the top of his head but under his chin. Still, we can’t all be beautiful, can we?
Going out to the hospital for my pre-op Assessment tomorrow morning. We think it should mean that I will have the repair done within the next 6 weeks. In some ways, it will be good to have it fixed but it is not without dangers including, down here, catching Covid. I sometimes wonder if it is worth it.
Monday, 4th April, 2022
Couldn’t sleep. Head full of thoughts and memories. Got up at 5.30 am. Thought I’d go out for an early walk before it rained. The moment I put the key in the door, it started to rain. I decided to prepare my documents for my Hospital assessment and wait for a break. At 6.30 am, I went out for my walk. It was dry but quite cold and breezy. I did a 6 mile round trip but, less than half way through, it started to rain and drive it into my face. I just gritted my teeth and continued.
By the time I’d got back, I was being instructed to shower and make myself presentable for the hospital appointment. I was driven there down the coast road in dull, wet, cold air.
At the hospital, I arrived in tee-shirt and shorts and everyone wanted to know why I was so brown. I told them that I just didn’t wash much. I had to spend about an hour with two, different nurses. I even had an ECG. Everything seemed to be alright and I was told that it would be about 6 weeks before my procedure and another 6 weeks before I could fly.
The only awkward moment was when I was asked how much I drink. I spoke honestly that we shared a bottle of wine with our meal most days and that I drank ⅔rds of that. She said that was close to being referred to the alcohol nurse. I asked her how much she drank. She said they had a similar amount. I asked if I should refer her to the alcohol nurse and she seemed less enthusiastic.
We are going to have to fit a few days wine buying trip to France in before the operation. We also have to have our treadmill repaired urgently if it’s going too rain much. In the gym, I’m watching a really good film on Amazon Prime. Others of my generation – and you know who you are – will immediately remember the true story of the British businessman/ spy, Greville Wynne who was caught up in the 1960s escapade in Russia while Khrushchev was in charge.
This is a 2021 film starring Benedict Cumberbatch whose mother, Wanda Ventham was one of my early erotic fantasies in The Lotus Eaters. In Greek mythology, ‘lotus-eater’ denotes a person who spends their time indulging in pleasure and luxury rather than dealing with practical concerns. It was broadcast in 1972-73 (a difficult year for me) and set on the Greek island of Crete. Spies, Greece and eroticism …. What’s not to like?
Before that, we have been visited by a Covid Survey Inspector who tests our infection with a PCR and our antibodies with a phial of blood. This was followed by an afternoon walk so dissimilar from the morning one that it was incredible. Dry, really warm and no wind. Really enjoyable.
Tuesday, 5th April, 2022
Out walking at 7.00 am on a lovely, sunny morning. Quite (relatively) warm. Have to leave home to drive to Surrey at 8.15 am. The M25 was remarkably good and we got there in about an hour. As we drove, the skies got darker and the temperature colder. For some reason, I am absolutely starving today. We had presents from Florida to deliver – popcorn for Colin/squeaky toys for the dog, etc..
We had to drive PW to Ashford Hospital near Windsor for a pre-assessment in advance of a cataract operation. Well that’s what she says. We have been speculating that it’s actually a face lift. Pauline went in to the hospital with her very old sister and I was left to walk. It turns out that PW’s blood pressure is far too high.
I walked solidly and unstopping for 90 mins by which time I was tired and even more STARVING!!! About 40 mins back to West Byfleet with the old lady and then an hour or so back to West Sussex. Quite enjoyed the drive and the car certainly did. We will repeat the performance in two weeks if PW can get her blood pressure down.
I have to do a little more exercise to complete my routine. Tomorrow I will be 71 and WILL have achieved my pledge of walking 10 miles every single day for a year. There have been a few difficult moments in that time but, largely, it has been enjoyable. I set out saying I wanted to live another 30 years and was going to walk myself to health. I am beginning to wonder if it’s worth it. Do I really want to live another 29 years?
Wednesday, 6th April, 2022
Went out early to walk this morning. It was cold, windy and wet. Did about 90 mins. Possibly not the way people generally celebrate their birthday but who wants to celebrate being 71? Just another day on the conveyor belt to oblivion.
It is genuinely lovely to receive so many good wishes from people even though some are very perfunctory and others obviously heartfelt. Family, friends, ex-colleagues and ex-pupils all reminded me how old I am. After walking my 10 miles, my legs reminded me too. Still, I’ve completed my pledge this afternoon in beautiful, warm sunshine.
I will keep going now until my hernia operation. The NHS has been absolutely fantastic. I had a pre-assessment on Monday. Within a couple of hours of that meeting, the Anti-Coagulation Department phoned me with advice. This afternoon, I was phoned by Monday’s nurse to see if I had a date yet and to advise me about Anti-Coagulation processes. All that work put in to one patient makes me feel very humble.
Nice of M to send me this from Florida this afternoon. Obviously, she’s the only one who knows my true spirit.
Mind you, I don’t remember wearing that outfit ….. and that colour really wouldn’t suit me.
Thursday, 7th April, 2022
The start of my 72nd year – bright, sunny and mild. Google picks up on so many things I do on-line and helps me to buy them. It can be quite eerily intrusive at times. I do like receiving my travel map each month and this time, at least, it shows I haven’t been so insular.
One new country, 16 new cities and 66 new places. I suppose that those on the conveyor belt to oblivion should make the most of the short time they have left. John Ridley begins his 74th year this morning. He’s spent time in South Korea. I have never been that brave although I did apply for a job with the British Council in Lima, Peru once. It was 1973/74 and I chickened out when they offered me the job.
Google knows exactly where I’ve been because my smartphone is attached to my arm permanently. Every shop we visited; every restaurant we ate in, every juice bar or supermarket we bought from Google registered. This is, in part, because I use their wi-fi but also because I use Google-Pay on my phone instead of a credit card. Yesterday, we even paid a cheque in on-line for the first time.
When we flew to New York, it even picked up places we flew over as we were in the air. Thank goodness I don’t use Google’s version of Alexa much because that is even more frightening!
You can tell the Summer has started here because we’ve made our first trip to the Garden Centre. It was busy and packed out with new plants. We just bought a couple of these – Euonymus japonicus ‘Marieke’. We have some already and they are wonderfully, bright and cheerful, evergreen (well, ever-gold) plants that stand out in the darker days of winter. They grow to about a metre high and spread to a metre wide. They are incredibly hardy and resistant to drought. Even so, it was hard to believe that two, small plants cost £25.00. In my day, that would buy a house!
All that’s left now is to do a walk and some exercise in the Gym. Assorted fish platter for Dinner tonight. Looking forward to that. Just have to cling on to the small, pinpricks of light.
Friday, 8th April, 2022
I always swore that I would never obsess about health and medical appointments – so aging! Unfortunately, today I will break that rule. One of my sisters told me yesterday that my (maternal) Great Grandmother (who I never met) died of bowel cancer as did my Grandma and my Mother. That is quite a strong lineage indicator. As a result, my sister has a colonoscopy every 5 years. If I’d known that (or even thought about it), I’d have done the same. Anyway, I am being put on a rolling, 2-yr colonoscopy plan so that will be fun!
Now, I have the date for my Hernia repair. It will be on the 11th May. I was phoned yesterday by a lovely lady called Liz who offered me an afternoon operation on the 9th. I asked if there was a morning slot so I wouldn’t need to stay in over night and she found one two days later. I have to be there at 7.30 in the morning which is ideal for me.
I have to stop taking Warfarin 5 days before and go in for a blood test and a Covid test two days before and then self-isolate. The operation will not be keyhole but a large incision to insert mesh support before closing up the tear in the wall. I will have a general anaesthetic for the first time since I was 7 years old. All I know about that was my Father telling me that I came out of anaesthetic kicking and punching which sounds rather like me. I just hope I don’t do the same thing aged 71!
Saturday, 9th April, 2022
Up and out early on a beautiful morning. Quick visit to Next for Pauline to return mail order and then on to Sainsburys for my latest obsession – Protein Bars. I got this from my month in Florida where M bought them for her son. These bars are a great way to refuel quickly but in a completely measurable, controlled way. I supposed I have been doing that with bananas but these offer so much more variety.
One of these bars delivers between 140 – 200 calories instantly. At least you know what you are doing by eating them. After a 10 mile walk, they are great.
After that, we drove down to the beach for a walk. Lovely view, wonderful fresh air with warm sunshine but very few people. Businesses were setting up in expectation of the Easter rush. Actually, Covid infection is still quite high down here so may dampen the traders’ hopes.
Talked to Kevin yesterday. He is in Alicante again and looks as if he is having warm if not very sunny weather. I know that, like me, me is a sun worshipper. It transforms the landscape and makes everything seem happier. He’d certainly like it down here.
Pauline needs a new laptop. Her’s is about 5 years old and they get slower and slower over that time. I usually buy Hewlett Packard because of the continuing on-line maintenance that they provide so comprehensively. Laptops are so cheap now that we should replace it more often.