Sunday, 27 February 2011

Remember Me This Way

There's a small chance that I won't survive the operation and die. It's really a very small chance, but just in case, remember me this way:

Camera in hand to the last! Or if you prefer, why not this shot taken at Zizzi in Croydon, when meeting up with my former colleagues last Wednesday?

Ah, that's a bit livelier! I was enjoying myself. My three ex-colleagues were being so accepting and pleasant. (We plan to have another little reunion later in the year)

Let me hasten to say that I do see myself coming through the op and waking up sometime on Tuesday afternoon, feeling dopey and unfocussed no doubt, but very much alive. There are real snags to face straight away though. Dreadful things. In particular, a spartan diet devoid of steaks and venison and dover soles and other nice stuff to get your teeth into, because of course I must pass only fluid matter for a few days. I've been warned of backache and I don't know what else.

Never mind: if I wake up at all, then I will have the Glittering Prize, and whatever short-term problems there may be, there is a future life to look forward to. Call me an incorrigible optimist if you will, but I say embrace the whole caboodle - lock, stock and barrel - and cast aside all fear. And above all, never look back. Well, OK, from time to time consider the past to learn from it, to get some perspective from it, but not to dwell on what might have been if things were otherwise. I tell you, being me as I am now is not a problem. Not being able to be me was the problem, and would still be if I hadn't had the luck and the will to make it this far.

As I write this, it's late afternoon. I haven't covered the outdoor chores like clearing the leaves and cleaning the windows. Drizzle has relieved me of the trouble. I'm not complaining. I completed the ironing, and fresh bedding is in place. It looks most inviting. Well, I want to sleep soundly tonight, and then in nine days time come back to an inviting bed. I dare say I'll be ready for a snooze, even though the trip home will be laughably short. I'll have to set an alarm, though. I want to say hello to my cleaning lady, T---, who will call that first afternoon when home again, and have a quick chat with her over a cup of tea. Then of course the strict dilating regime begins at once. But I'm good at organising my life around medical requirements. And in a strange way I'm certain that each dilation session will be something to look forward to, when you consider the significance of needing to dilate. It won't seem a chore. And whatever the discomfort, I'm not minded to shirk the effort, or ever give up. Stubborn persistence is the name of the game.

Now about communications when I'm in hospital. In theory I can compose text-only blog posts - and indeed send and receive texts, emails and voice calls - on my mobile phone. But I've no idea whether I'll have good enough reception in my room. So if nothing gets posted, or if anyone sends an email that doesn't get answered, don't assume the worst. It probably just means no reception. I'll have to wait until they let me get up and wander around.

I'm going to take plenty of photos. The hospital stay will be well documented! I'm not going to post shots of the War Zone, except as bandaged up, although I will take as many as possible of the new bits for my own personal record. But you may eventually see pictures of a wan and limp Lucy as wheeled back from the theatre. As a counterpoint, I hope there will be some showing me recovering and having a good laugh.

I'm serene and upbeat to the end, it seems. Still no hot flushes or moodiness. Still no male look bursting forth. It's so undramatic. I jolly well hope it stays that way too.

For some reason Keat's poem On First Looking into Chapman's Homer comes to mind:

MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Two other poems also come to mind, why I do not know. This one is by R S Thomas, the Welsh vicar:


There was Dai Puw. He was no good.
They put him in the fields to dock swedes,
And took the knife from him, when he came home
At late evening with a grin
Like the slash of a knife on his face.

There was Llew Puw, and he was no good.
Every evening after the ploughing
With the big tractor he would sit in his chair,
And stare into the tangled fire garden, 
Opening his slow lips like a snail.

There was Huw Puw, too. What shall I say?
I have heard him whistling in the hedges
On and on, as though winter
Would never again leave those fields,
And all the trees were deformed.

And lastly there was the girl:
Beauty under some spell of the beast.
Her pale face was the lantern
By which they read in life's dark book
The shrill sentence: God is love.

And this one by Philip Larkin:


Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;

And the countryside not caring
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

And finally this one, written by myself in March 1972. I was nineteen.


Mary wouldn't come and play
Along the beach, or surf, or swim
Among the breakers crashing whitely:

Mary wouldn't stay all day
Upon her back to get a tan,
And sat alone while they danced nightly.

Mary wandered out sometimes
To distant fields and clifftops high;
Avoiding other people's steps,
Avoiding other people's eyes,
Listening to the sea's soft music
But flinching from the seagull's cry.

Mary drove herself to swim
And play and dance with heavy limbs:
And she laughed, she took her cue,
For Mary knew just what to do.

That's how I spent my teens. Acting a part. But no acting now.


  1. all the best for the coming days & weeks. I'm a reader rather than commenter but having followed you thus far, wanted to wish you well for new beginnings.

  2. Sending you love and blessings. Catch you on the other side! I know you'll be there.

  3. Planned like a military campaign, I am sure you will be fine but best of luck anyway. look forward to the dilation diaries or whatever the next chapter is to be called.

    Caroline xxx

  4. I hope the healing is quick and I look forward to hearing about life on the other side.



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