Sunday, 19th February, 2023
I must first wish happy birthday to my little brother, Bob, who is 71 today. Just 10 months between us – that’s Roman Catholics for you. That and the natural fecundity of the Sanders family.
Having lived in the South of England most of his life, Bob won’t know what his name means to Northerners. As I learnt when I first went to Oldham and they said, That’s absolutely bob. they meant it was total rubbish. It derives from the Lancashire cotton mills, where used bobbins/spools were discarded as worthless. I think today is the day to enlighten him.
Lovely, warm and sunny day. I’m having my haircut. Apparently, I can’t have things shoved up me on Tuesday if I’m looking scruffy. I’ll probably be made to put on a suit at this rate.
Pauline & I are both a collectors of the past. I collect people. She collects items – mementoes – things that keep her in touch with events of her history. Around our house, there are small, ostensibly insignificant, objects that came from her mother. A lampshade, a serviette holder, a thermometer that barely functions and things she picked up in Greece – pieces of pottery, objects from the travelling.
I was reminded of this because the objects are not just stored in a cupboard but put to use which makes them all the more significant to her. The lampshade is over our bed; the pottery is used to store sewing things, the little bags are used for all sorts of things including haircutting equipment. They were in use today.
The first car ferry we ever took to our Greek house was Blue Star Ferries in a brand new ship – Blue Star 1 – from Ancona to Patras. We rewarded ourselves with a Deluxe Cabin. The experience was lovely and we continued with them or Superfast Ferries for 15 years. Now we fly and British Airways give us bags with eye masks, etc. We are building up collections of those.
Testament to my collection of people: I have even developed a text relationship with Pauline’s old College friend, Christine in Milton Keynes. She and I were exchanging texts yesterday while she was dining out in luxury in a box at Chelsea while watching her beloved team lose at home to the Premier League’s bottom team, Southampton. She took a bit of cheering up.
I’m really looking forward to meeting old friends in October but we are talking about slotting in another reunion for my birthday in April – assuming I’m still alive. On April 6th, the Tate Britain Exhibition – THE ROSSETTIS – opens to the public. Now, for a long time I have been obsessed with the women of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s life and art. Pauline had to put up with them hanging all over our Yorkshire homes.
You could say I was a collector. I amassed around 40 huge prints all around the house. They were prints unfortunately. Only Andrew Lloyd Webber could afford to buy the originals … and he did.
Monday, 20th February, 2023
Woke up thinking about tomorrow. Tomorrow is D-Day. Old college friend, Nigel, wished me good luck. He is quite a bit older than me and is in remission from blood cancer. I think he had been prompted by Julie. I also heard from Kevin, John Ridley, John Morris and Dave Roberts as he returned from Australasia. Nigel’s contact really moved me. He doesn’t reach out much and to make that effort meant even more.
The news carried a report of the death of former sports commentator, Dickie Davies, at the age of 94. My waking brain instinctively said, Well, that’s not bad. If you’ve reached 90, you should be fairly satisfied. And then my slow, old brain calculated, That would leave less than 20 years to enjoy the people in my life, the places that I love, the words I want to write.
As the day approaches, I’ve been forced to focus on the precise procedure. Until now, I’ve tried to leave that to my Social Secretary. The section featured above makes my trip to the Dentist this afternoon seem like a festive outing. If there is anyone out there, male or female, who will volunteer to go through this biopsy for me, I will be pleased to hear from you. Money could change hands. … Kevin has just told me he is a good friend but not that good. He also said, in a state of shock having read the procedure, a number of things that I cannot report here but I suppose we are just a couple of drama queens together.
Tuesday, 21st February, 2023
The condemned man ate a hearty breakfast …. well, porridge and orange juice. My social secretary has reviewed the orders for today:
- Urine sample
- Covid Test
- INR test
- No Dairy Products after 11.00 am
- Take antibiotic at 2.00 pm
- Arrive at Worthing Urology Butchers’ Dept. at 2.45 pm
- Butchery begins at 3.00 – 3.30 pm.
- Released if not passing too much blood by 4.30 pm.
- Driven home and waited on hand and foot in perpetuity.
- Death Sentence pronounced within 10 days.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.Philip Larkin
Managed the sample. Looked beautiful. Covid Test was clear. INR test was very low at 1.0 so I won’t bleed to death when they cut me. I will drink orange juice after 11.00 am. I don’t have a problem with antibiotics. After that, the list gets a bit more problematic.
Well, it is all over. The guidance they sent and which I posted yesterday was so scary that the actuality was wonderful. I had three very attractive girls looking up my bum. No real pain. We listened to Puccini and talked about the Labour Party. They said I was a lovely patient which, of course, I was. Before I knew it, they were offering to help me put my pants back on and I left feeling pounds lighter. It will be about 10 days until I get my results.
Wednesday, 22nd February, 2023
Another grey, damp day. I’m going to see a lot of the Gym today. As I woke and reviewed the day ahead, two deadlines loomed into view. The Repair Shop have to contact me in the next few days to say whether they have repaired my iPad and the hospital have to contact me in the next few days to tell me if I have prostate cancer. Can’t quite decide which is most important. I’m absolutely lost without my iPad.
Still, I can buy a new iPad whereas a new prostate?? I don’t even know what a prostate is really and, until now, I’ve been too nervous to look it up. My wife knows all about bodies but despairs of explaining it to me. Never having studied Biology can have its advantages. Sublime ignorance allows one to lead a carefree life. At times like this, however, it can be like living in a strange, misty world of fear.
On the off chance that I am allowed to live a bit longer, financial security is very important. You never know when you’re going to need money. Is it too soon to start thinking about Funeral Plans? I’m going for the cheapest – Cardboard coffin, no mourners, no religious service. I don’t mind flowers if someone else is buying. I used to want a burial with a headstone for the sake of History but oblivion through cremation is what now appeals.
However, money is the topic. I have cash accounts paying about 3% interest but our bank has recently brought out a Regular Savings Account which pays double that. Admittedly, we can only hold £10,000 in it but that’s better than nothing. If the rates improve, I may go back into ISAs just to save tax. I think I’ve got too much time on my hands!
Thursday, 23rd February, 2023
An improving day which turned sunny and bright but wasn’t very warm. Heard from the iPad repairers that it will cost me £240.00 for what is essentially a spare charging socket which I could buy for £3.50.
Unfortunately, all the skill is in removing the glass screen without breaking it, cleaning the computer board, removing the old socket and micro-soldering in a new one. This is all quite beyond me and cost effective. A new one would cost me about £1600.00 so the repair on a relatively new machine is well worth it.
A few more days before I hear if my own body is recoverable or even worth saving. Expecting a phone call within two weeks to deliver the sentence. I’d certainly pay a great deal more for that to be resoldered.
Certainly got that phone call in the back of my mind as I go about the day. It rather colours each activity from walking outside in the Spring sunshine to exercising in the Gym, from shopping for food to researching new travels. I feel like I am marking time rather than moving forward. Life is all about new goals and achieving them but I’m struggling to focus at the moment. There are nice things lurking away in the background but, for now, pleasure is hard to grind out.
Actually, the day really came alive as we walked a familiar path. The trees are well into bud, the rabbits are out and frisky, the birds are singing very loudly from the tree tops.
And this evening, the planets are aligned in our village. The Moon, Jupiter and Venus in a straight line. Must mean something!
Friday, 24th February, 2023
A cold morning. Had the heating on at breakfast. That’s a rare event. It is fairly grey outside as well.
I have to chauffeur my Social Assistant to Worthing on a clothes shopping expedition. Not that I will be much help.
The shops are near the beach so I can’t resist a sniff of the sea even though an icy wind made it less enjoyable than usual.
I hate shopping for clothes with a passion but the bright warmth of the department store was almost preferable this morning. Shopping for clothes illustrates as much as anything the differences between the sexes. If I want something, I check a shop has it, go to the shop and buy it. If Pauline wants something, she consults 20 sales catalogues, 20 more websites, selects 10 different items, colours, sizes and then goes to the store.
When she gets there, she finds the item and holds it, rocking it backwards and forwards while simultaneously scanning the rails. She then walks round the store, holding the item that she came for but looking at every other item there. In the end, she will often forget the original and buy something completely different. What drives me mad is the indecision. I’m not a good shopping companion.
I love learning new things. Today it was paying a physical cheque in online. Don’t normally deal in cheques or hard cash but something strange happened when we bought a new car. Firstly, our insurance was £100.00 cheaper than for the identical but dirtier car that we were trading in. Absolutely no idea why. Next, we were provided with 12 months Road Fund Tax in the price of our new car and were entitled to 6 months remaining RFT from our old one. It arrived today in the form of a paper cheque for £77.50. With our banking app and smartphone camera, it’s as simple as photographing the cheque. Who needs banks?
Saturday, 25th February, 2023
Didn’t sleep well last night but woke to a reasonably bright morning. No earthquakes down here. I did sleep through one a few years ago in Yorkshire which my wife says rattled the garage doors. Those were the days when I slept soundly without concern.
Received a text this morning from my next door neighbour asking if I could help him out with his lawns. He runs a Building Firm. In fact, his firm built our house for David Wilson Homes. He is very proud of his lawns but doesn’t have much time to maintain them so, when he does, he cuts them so low he scalps them. They have a dog which wees on their front lawn and destroys it in patches. His lovely, skinny wife – an English Lit. lecturer – appeared at my door the other day to apologise for reversing over the grass when she came home tired after work. I didn’t make it easy for her!
Jason was offering to pay me to do the grass. Of course, I couldn’t contemplate that. I replied that I would happily bring his lawns back to life and he could just pay for the products but there would be a couple of things he should consider: selling the dog and banning his wife from driving. He immediately came back one better. He will discuss selling his wife and teaching the dog to drive. On that basis, I’ve agreed to help out.
I had just started to explore a June trip to Barcelona when the dreaded letter arrived. It confirmed that I have quite advanced prostate cancer. It is not clear to me what my prognosis is or what can be done to mitigate it but at least I now know.