A car battery weighs 20 kilos
Welcome to my blog, which Jenny has suggested could be subtitled “my humourless cancer blog” (I shall do my utmost to live up to this, and let my funnier friends keep up the laugh quota by posting comments underneath to amuse you all). The idea of writing a blog resonated when I read about it in this very good book What Can I Do to Help. Billy has obliged by providing the technological know-how to set this up, and now all that is left for me to do is to tell you how I am feeling and post some nice pictures, which I think I can manage.
The first thing I wanted to write about was you lot. The last few weeks have been very strange, and brutal at times, but also astonishingly and delightfully full of love. I have seen more of my real and urban families than I have done for months (my fault, not theirs). And I have had messages of support, prayer and Buddhist chants from dear friends and colleagues all around the world, from San Francisco to Kigali. But it is very strange reading about yourself as others see you in the messages I have been sent. There is a lexicon about cancer which we all seem to follow (me included). I don’t think there is a friend who hasn’t told me how strong and determined I am, and how you are sure I will defeat this (this what? Nuisance is my favourite descriptor so far). I wanted to say two things in response to this. The first is that I appreciate you writing to me more than I can tell you (even if I don’t always reply). The second is that we all need to get a bit more imaginative. Of course, I am strong and determined, but really, you would say that about anyone with cancer, wouldn’t you? Delve deeper into what you know about me and use that to get beyond the cancer clichés. Remind yourselves of the stories about me which tell you just how strong I am. And if you can’t remember any, here are my two favourites.
When Billy and I were living in Oval, we drove my Gran’s old car, the 1970’s Toyota Starlet. This was my first car and I didn’t really know what to do with it. So when the battery finally died and it needed a new one, I just took it out of the car and down to the local car parts shop to get a new one. The car battery weighed about 20 kg and I carried it in a rucksack down the Clapham Road to Stockwell, swapped it over, and then carried a new one all the way home. The guys in the shop looked at me very oddly. I don’t think I fitted it – probably made my dad do that bit.
In 2005 we went to Glastonbury. It was the year 2 inches of rain fell in an hour on the opening day. Jenny, Ian and I arrived just as the heavens were opening – Billy was in New York trying to raise money for Owlstone. So I was left to carry our tent, rucksack and all other equipment far, far across the deluged fields of Glastonbury to find a campsite, accompanied by Jenny and Ian (who weren’t much help, frankly. I think Jenny had some inappropriate footwear issues).
So, dear friends, what do these stories tell you about me? That physically, I am from strong peasant stock (c.f. carrying the little twin brutes full term, even though I was the size of a house and people laughed when they saw me on the street). That once I start something I am not easily deflected, and I can be very stubborn in pursuit of a goal. That I am Pollyanna-ishly able to see the positive in any situation, and think anything can be done if you put a bit of elbow into it. That when I’m carrying a heavy load, Billy is no-where to be found*. And that whilst the next weeks and months will be horrible you can rest assured that I shall be able to draw on all of this. And finally, that I just love people telling stories, to me, about me, for me. Keep them up, gang.
*this is one of my humourless jokes. Billy is carrying my load with me, if not for me, as he always has done. Except in these two stories.