Saturday 31 December 2011

EEny meeny miny mo:-

It has been pretty much the status quo here. Sleep on and off, bathe, dress, laze around until I can get back into bed without looking like too much of a wuss [slang: weakling]  Thing is, that although the Chemotherapy knocks backs the fecker it makes me so lack energy that the slightest effort costs, then when the Chemotherapy. is over for another ten  days I get more energy yet breathing is difficult. So you can imagine I was not best pleased to find that the fecker...indirectly, I cannot lay the blame totally at it's door, decided that I could take more and racked what goes for brains eventually coming up with...

Laugh at your peril:


I am going to leave you with this image...why should I suffer alone?

Thursday 22 December 2011


 Yesterday I spent the afternoon at our districts' Hospice. Not something I ever imagined doing for myself, nor someting I have ever done for another.  The word has always chilled me, and it should not have done because it's derivative:-

a house of shelter or rest for pilgrims, strangers, etc.,especially one kept by a religious order.
Medicine/Medical .
a health-care facility for the terminally ill that    emphasizes pain control and emotional support for the patient and family, typically refraining from taking extraordinary measures to prolong life.
a similar program of care and support for the terminallyill at home.
preaches nothing but love and caring. 

I think it is the 'terminally ill' phrase that I don't like, determined as I am to beat this thing...and I have to say that the vast majority of the patients staff and volunteers I met, do seem to have that mind set, many are back after some good years of remission...six and seven years in some cases. However, despite my misgivings I did come away with a feeling of relaxation that I do not feel all the time at is not easy to be on the end of an endless stream of help however willingly given. One knows the sacrifices being made daily by one's loved ones.

In the afternoon after lunch we all sat back on our loungers, like so many oldies...dozed off and I even had a foot massage. Then a Carol service in the Chapel... innocuously non-denominational and rather sweet. I my dears, did not need the hymn sheet. They had this child by seven years.

My driver, is eighties...smoker with a lovely fruity cough, bought me home.

I shall go again next Wednesday and all Wednesdays after that when I'm free, and from what I saw, will enjoy the odd few nights of respite care.

Who knew?

Tuesday 13 December 2011

They have travelled with me all my married life; the first things I pack and unpack. Faded now, even yellowed where the sun of France, Spain  and Mexico have burned, they sit where I can see them, unopened for years, just waiting to welcome me back. I have more...hardbacks bought when things were good. Angeliques, Catherines and Marianne s. All beautiful, all tempestuous, mostly green-eyed  with a figure Sophia Loren would be proud of.

I would be the first to admit [since doing my degree and becoming a bit poncey] that these is  no literary merit to these genres of the bodice busting-historical romance-adventures stories [although I have just spotted Ayn that's where she went?]. Narrative driven they do exactly what they say on the covers.They tell stonking adventure stories with lots of heaving bosoms, sardonic men, gypsies, pirates and even magic.

I love 'em all.

Yesterday I picked one up...and now the die is cast. I must to  the beginning go.  Anglelique.. a child, poor and barefoot.  Sigh!

And when the well ran dry in the 70's and no-one was writing that genre any more...I wrote one myself. A two volume masterpiece...Meg and the Rufus Box and Meg and the Blood Red Stones.  Brilliant they are. Stuck on a shelf somewhere, waiting to make my fortune. Almost publishable the man said, at Collins. But kids and life, travel and work got in the way. Well...that's my excuse and I am sticking to it.

Saturday 10 December 2011


Three Strikes and you're out in that Yankee version of our children's game of Rounders, I believe.
Well, the Flecker has had me down twice, and I'm still here-so, one more and you are down and dusted you hybrid, parasitic, cowardly crawling piece of CRUD.

I'm gussied up like my beloved  Suldog
I'm  swinging my bat or is it arms?)
I'm aiming at your centre
I'm coming to get you
Fleck off.


have I mixed my metaphors...
does the pitcher or the batter make the strike?

Who is or me.
How should this have been written? [it was done at 3.20am]

Help me out Jim...

Sunday 4 December 2011

A lesson well learned.

Left to Right: Seriously Irish and seriously loyal friend, Beauty Queen, Moi, No-nonsense girl, three baduns, friend from day one: Serious Lesbian who HATED me. Two younguns who had been cadets.

Something happened, or rather did not happen last night  reminding me of an incident that occurred long long ago but one which I've always remembered with a shiver; not for what did happen but for what could have.

I'm young, twenty one but still the oldest of this little group. We've had a month of School and a month of  Ward Mondays and we are still wearing our hated Chip bag hats so are in our first three months. This picture is being posed for an article in the local paper.

Only six months on from this picture and I am on night duty.

Night duty and I don't exactly hit I off. I'm young and in love with life and dancing, and handsome American Airmen who swarm over Margate and Ramsgate...the two towns nearest to Manston Air Base. After my shift is over I am supposed to eat dinner [cooked the night before and warmed up as the day nurses eat their breakfast.] Then I should go to my quarters at the night nurses house...tuck myself up and sleep until it is time to get ready for another shift.   Cannot be done. I toss and turn, and eventually I get up,and dress and creep away to my coffee bars or just to walk along the beach.  
I do this for at least three nights and by the fourth night usually just about make it into my bed the next morning.

This particular night I'm not too well...beginnings of a cold, or just a tummy ache but, as I am on a convalescent ward set in a Quonset hut outside the hospital  I have no qualms in settling down on two chairs with my apron crossed in front, shoes off, hat off...and eyes closed. I have done bottle round, night sister has done the meds, men are tucked up save for a couple going home the next day and are playing cards...and smoking. [truly ash trays sit on every bedside locker]

When I awake it is to door banging and pealing telephone bells. I cannot move 'nurse's paralysis' has struck me down; a phenomenon I have heard about almost as a myth...I know no-one to whom this has  happened.

Then Sister Redmond is there, shouting at me...I still cannot move..she shakes me and actually slaps me...I remember her father is in the ward, a late admission just before I arrived. She is beside herself with anger..he has pulled out his catheter and is in pain.   Now I can move.

I am sent off duty...the shame is immense.

Matron kept me waiting to hear my least three days passed before I was commanded to appear in her office.
I was a good nurse and they didn't grow on trees, no point to sack me.
She did the worst thing ever. Beside her desk was a large sack and in that sack there must have been two hundred Terry Towelling nappies [diapers] all needing hemming. And I HATED sewing. How did she find out? I did them all, slowly but surely and actually got quite good, taking a pride in the neatness of my work.

A moral there somewhere chaps and chapesses.

Wednesday 30 November 2011


Seventy-one years ago I lost my hair to ringworm. My next Chemo is, I am told going to loosen my hair. Thought it was apt to re-post.

For Christmas, in the 'Ringworm Year', the older girls decided to put on a play. It was to be Goldilocks, and the second smallest girl was chosen to play the heroine, mainly because she was able to fit into the Bear's 'beds' [three laundry baskets] but also because she had golden hair.

I watched all the rehearsals, and knew all the words by heart, except for the Goldilocks part. She had nothing to say. All she had to do was to come on stage, try the porridge on the table, then go to the baskets, try the big one, then the middle one and finally, fall asleep in the smallest. Then, when the three bears came noisily home, she had to sit up and stretch, see the bears and run screaming to the front of the stage where Mr. Diamond would lift her off and she would go running through the audience, out of the door, along the corridor, around the corner to the 'stage' door and back on the stage for the final bow.

All was going well until Goldilocks fell ill; three days to go till Friends of St. Edith's arrived for their annual feel-good night. Eventually someone suggested that, I might do. As soon as they all finished falling about laughing they realised that they had no choice; it was the squeaky voiced bald girl or no-one.

One of the nuns made me a bonnet out of stiffened card and crepe paper tied beneath my chin in a big bow, and yellow wool was stuck in curls next to my face and down the back. In my pink borrowed dress and the blue bonnet I thought I looked very pretty .
The evening of the concert arrived and the hall was filled with the great and the good and the show began.

The Grand Old Duke of York came on with four of his ten thousand soldiers and marched to the top of the hill [two benches] and marched right down
 again. Someone played the piano and carols were sung and then it was time for the Piece De resistance.

The three bears tramped on stage, did their bit with the porridge, decided to go for a walk and exited stage right.

My cue; I climbed on-stage and smiled at the audience to a chorus of oohs and aahs. Slowly I sampled the father bears porridge and made a huge grimace and much fanning of my mouth to indicate how hot it was...then mother bears...ugh! nasty and cold. Baby Bear's was just right and I scraped the bowl clean; [they were all empty of course, but a great bit of acting don't you think?]
Then over to the, jumping into each one and making a great deal of business over the whole thing, ignoring the 'hurry up' gestures of Sister Moira. Finally I lay down in the baby Bear's basket, yawned hugely and closed my eyes. Almost at once the three bears came home. 'Whose been eating my porridge' said father bear, and I nearly shouted 'Me!' Then Ma bear said the same thing and I stuffed my fist in my mouth so that when B.Bear accused someone of eating his all up, I simply kicked my legs in the air, to the delight of the audience who hadn't known they would be seeing farce.
By the time they reached the baskets, true fear was setting in...whoever had done the Bear's make-up was very talented; black fur was stuck to the girl's faces and hands and false sticky up ears all added to the illusion. 

I managed to hold out till baby bear shouted '...and there she is' before jumping out of the basket, running to the edge of the stage into Mr. Diamonds waiting arms. Unfortunately, in my zeal to escape from the grizzlies and because Mr. Diamond could hardly see due to the tears in his eyes, we managed it badly, and my paper hat's ribbons tore

Aided by the wind of my flight the bonnet fell backwards exposing my very, very bald head.

Now the hall rocked with laughter as I ran down the aisle and out of the door at the end.

But my trials were not yet over. I knew that with my leaving the stage, the bears had nothing much to do and the play was over. I had to get to the stage door and take my bow with the other girls.

At the end of the corridor was a door I had to pass.  It was open and I could see, walking up and down inside, a tall fat man with a long white beard, wearing a bright red coat and trousers. He looked very fierce and I was terrified, turned to stone.  I could not go back into the hall, nor could I pass that door.

It seemed like a very long time before someone came to look for me, and when I explained, for some reason fell about laughing all over again!

Sunday 27 November 2011










Tuesday 22 November 2011


Been a bit hectic the past few days...and three full days of tests and interviews to come and of course the start of my fight back on Friday so it is fun for me to go back a little bit and tell you about the few hours I spent last Thursday before the big decision; with NOAOS and my darling daughter in law whom I shall call the PLP [perfect little package] and dog, Harry.

He decided to kidnap  me, did NOAOS...bit foolhardy really, as he had not fully considered the logistics of the operation, but kidnap me he did.  Didn't pack a bag...just me a bit fed up with, well being not me...Oxygen tank was stowed in the boot [next to the petrol tank,] I know..what were we thinking?] We did take my meds, but not new sleeping tab. and that set the scene for the rest of  the adventure.. a sort of  'suck it and see' few hours.

Not only did he, I, not consider the implications, he didn't confer with the PLP either, nor could he get to her by Mobi or landmine as it was the very day she had interviews scheduled and would not be home till late.

Ni modo. I am installed, gas tank to hand...and we both look a little askance. He dials the PLP shakes the machine...makes me coffee. And as it is the worst coffee I have ever tasted we get over the hump of [what to do with mum now I've kidnapped her] by dissecting and diagnosing the various methods and machines and cup thickness's before deciding I'll have instant.

I am to have their is a lovely big comfortable bed but it is their bed. I don't argue. As I am actually in my nightshirt, cunningly disguised as a mini skirt by the sweater I pulled over it...there is little to remove and once in bed I relax. We do what we do best he and I, talk...a lot...about just everything.

Eventually the PLP comes home and, seeing  me there does not turn a hair but hugs me home and makes supper.

And so to bed...I take two Co-codomols in lieu of my sleeping tablet but they don't work; sleep has eluded me most nights and I wait for the dawn before nodding off for an hour or so... viscous circle really, I don't sleep ergo I won't sleep and then I don't. This did not mean that I spent the night no I spent the night whispering and giggling and re-counting and promising, making memories for him to keep and me to guard. The PLP slept well and was up and out of the house by seven. NOAOS and I were drunk on our sleep deprivation.

After a great cup of coffee and nice crispy toast we both collapsed on the sofa's and I believe nodded off for the fraction of a minute till I sparked up:

'Do you know what I would like to do...really like to do?'
'ER, No..but .within reason maman, or even not, as that would be a challenge.'
'I should like to go to TkMaxx, today, this morning, now.'
'It is only 7.20 Ma...the Mall is closed.'
'Okay...we'll wait.' But fired up now as my meds are kicking in.' I know...let's take Harry for a walk.'

I haven't mentioned Harry because, as a rather special and unusual dog he really deserves his own post but I'm a bit greedy and these are mine so  he has to share. He is a Yorkie. not one of those fluffy tiny toy York shires which curl up quietly in your pocket and everyone goes gaga, but one of the longer legged variety which can, at any given moment look like a cheeky cartoon with one ear and paw up and the next like a Griffon.
Any hoo...Harry sleeps under the duvet and he did, it was so comforting and we did alright until NOAOS crept up to see if I had slept and woke Harry up who rightly saw him off.

It turned out to be a very short walk...twenty yards tops, before we had to come back.

'I  Wonder if they have wheelchairs.?' I think it was I who said those words and heard them come back to me...wheelchair...wheelchair!
No sooner said than done and NOAOS is on the net enquiring. Mall opens at nine...chair can be hired from Motobility..
We throw ourselves back on our sofa's and wait.

Nine twenty and I am ensconced in my smart wheelchair. I look rather like an ancient teenager in my leggings faux mini skirt, zippered top and, if NOAOS had his way, a beanie hat. We prowl through the doors of my favourite shop and I drive forward, catching at cashmere...snatching at silks, fondling footwear, and nuzzling knitting. We do well in TK...but it isn't enough. I am so revelling in this unexpected adventure that I want it is six nighties in Peacocks and Coffee and Croissants at Costa and then, well, a little sense prevails and we make our way back home, [with the Oxygen tank nestling between my legs: what a way to go!] to the sense and sensibilities of what is painfully obvious but which we managed to forget for 14 hours.

I have plans day when I'm feeling OK, and everyone is down here..we are all going to the Mall and we are going to TKMaxximama till we're done.

Tuesday 15 November 2011


What I am doing here today my lovelies is apologising.   Sometimes I think I am too clever by half, though I do swear this has only happened lately with my new best friends [and which are gradually being weaned off me me lest I get too big-headed].  See, I don't think. 

Having upset someone for whom that is unthinkable I pondered some and realised that just because a doctrine doesn't suit me I have no right to diss another's devotion dedication and true belief.  Enough dreariness here already so I'll not go back into the past and drag all that muck out again; I'm a very big girl and never had nightmares, just didn't want any part of organised religion. 

But, BUT...BUT ! Were I to go that route I think old Zara might fit the bill...bit bonkers. I see my God like a large Nebulous  cloud...d'you know what I mean? Clouds of colour swirling across Universes and old Zar's beards and whiskers mixed up inside and a sign says FIND ZARA.  He know he didn't get it right first time round...not enough in the planning stages. But one thing my God would be...along with Bonkers, would be fair, none of this spinning round and pointing the finger and saying 'it's youhoo'.

Or perchance I might go the route of the many gods, the gods of minutia; of water, fire, earth and wind, chocolate cake and Tesco.

What I do know is that I am open ready and willing to suck on anything anyone sends me...I even still cannot believe this is happening or that you should give a monkeys behind.  

Just don't please tell me it is GOD'S WILL

I now have appointment to see the Oncologist.


Sunday 13 November 2011

with a little bit of blooming luck...

and a lot of help I may now be able to talk to you without the page looking as if it has been edited by psychedelic spiders.  Whilst in the hospital and, under the influence of quite a few, new to me, drugs, well and strange experiences, I would find myself wide awake in the middle of the night and would write furiously on any piece of paper to hand, or a sheet or my thigh....all these bits to be delivered to Sazzie who, amazingly managed to make some sort of sense from them, edit and print them, for which dedication I am truly etc..

I must say though that my story about my nine chapters on Hedonism? was a lot funnier in the original Lesbianism version.  So this is where I start putting in the mad meanderings of my midnights thoughts.

So here you are my people, waiting with bated breath this morning, evening, night of the pre biopsy of the bleeding, bloody blight that bites and burns and burrows it’s many headed back-sides in my space. Today we are naming and shaming you, yes? er, no.

Bright-eyed and bushy tailed, scrubbed up and gleaming brightly, their futures glow from the dark Iris, the so white teeth and faux faux very expensively designed to look like Top Shop leggings and casuals....the acolytes tumble onto the ward.  It is perfectly evident to anyone with an eye for nuance to recognise the quietly unprepared-think fur coat and no knickers so that when small man...[who I know has very big place in my particular bit of ‘biz) all I know is lovely smile possibly Sr lanken...a lot of's ‘I have decided’s’ even as around and beside him his ineffectual (as it turned out) words are being recorded by his PA’s and er...people. ‘So very sorry, Mrs. er, Mrs...’ waving frantically brought forward...’Annie, but ‘der has bin some confusion...’

Me: No...and no and no. I was promised, it was written,  reserved BOOKED.
‘Let me explain.’

‘No.’ I am actually sulking, and glowering, I feel my face lowering and I want to charge him, like a bull. 'Allez you blithering idiot.'  With all due respect [oh how those words can wither] for all the many people around you [and I am sorry but I do not know who you are - or what part you are playing in this saga [I am beginning to enjoy this as my dear new steroid friends jog me up a gear in the old thought proccesses ] 3 acolytes begin to speak at once, and I understand that he is the Geriatrics Consultant [] attached to my GP and he it is who alerted this man to my parlous state of wicked Shrek witch [see pics if you think you are hard  enough]and pointed out that the swellings involved were not caused by my new best friends the Steroids, but sumpen much more deadly  was about to separate brain and body or some such and above and beyond a nasty Geriatric cough.......elevating me onto a higher more interesting plane. Seems I have another Consultant, female, Greek, walks on Mount Olympus, and who, somewhere in this Universe is fed bits and pieces by these Handmaidens, and she will decide in the course of rapidly running out of time, whether or not I live or die.

So- no- not today but tomorrow.
The night has been very interesting - and it is all in texts flying in between Sazzie and  I perhaps she can sort them out.

Till we meet again.
Back at home: Wednesday 9 November

Bit of an update here folks.
I am in the hands of my darling and he had it all sussed out. Up most of the day, all the excitement of, well unlimited tv, sulky dog who no longer loves me best...crash course in Apple Mac and I would be ready to sleep at eight. So we’re all geared up...mac out of reach as are phones which tend to be busy with my  middle-night meanderings.  After half an hour of talking he says, okay, I’m going to read my newspaper, you obviously are not ready to sleep. Actually I am.  

I listen as he reads, shuffling the paper, rustling it’s leaves provocatively. Then I’m sure he is eating...surely that is chocolate paper. I accuse him...JP Ja’accuse...or words to that effect, certainly spelt  better. Then, suddenly, and I mean just like that, as if knocked on the head, he is asleep. 11pm, good time to go...bit of luck 4 hours...and he is sleep and I not.  I text Sazzie on the mean ness of it but the batteries are dead...and there is no  free plug in this room which appears to be ready for take off.  I listen with bared teeth, I  truly want to sleep head itches...I usually have to sleep upright to stop the wheezes driving me bonkers but tonight Im going to lie down and wheeze for England, but, here's another bloody but...I’m imagining, at least I hope I’m imagining, that there are fleas in my mass of pilows.
Surely not, yet my head and neck and my wrists are going some.  Steroids? Let’s blame them.

He calls out, quite surly, as if he hasn’t had a good two and  half hours of shut eye...’Don’t move anymore, I’m coming in.’
I start to laugh and at first I hear irritation when he says not to get excited or I’ll have to have a Tina special [more of which another time, this aside has gone on long enough and you will have all left me by now].
‘What I really would love is one of your special nectars and...did I not spy scones in the kitchen? He agreed that the idea was good, fixed my pillows bought me mr. mac and that is why we both had a mid-night feast instead of a good nights sleep.

You are not going to like this but I’m moving backwards.  I shall tell you that you haven’t missed anything as, at the time of scratching this out in a midnight ramble, I had not been processed of the liver. I have now...but...oh dear those wretched buts.
No, what I’m doing is a bit of The Ronnie Corbutts [sp]  Well known is our Ronnie for never being able to tell a story in a straight line.
Some mighty strange things have been a happening to me and don’t any of you go jumping on the ‘God’ theme just yet ‘cos you should know, I’ve certainly never tried to hide it but from five to nine years of age in an extremely rigid Anglo-Catholic system is gonna kill or cure one.

Odd thing number one.

I think it is my second day on the ward. Two new patients arrive to fill our four bays. The woman in the bed opposite is very ill...her neighbour walking wounded as am I. I never learn the name of my neighbour and she leaves that afternoon.

Later, we talk, exchange names and I feel rather strange when I learn there is an Iris and a June...My mother’s name was Iris and, when she danced professionaly called herself June. ‘All we need now is an Eleanor’ I that woud be really weird.’
‘I’m Aleanor..will that do?’ asked the darling girl who plays Soccer for Canterbury and cleans and pours us tea and sympathy popping her head up from her trolley.

Can anyone calculate the chances of that happening?  Iris eleanor/June all in my room in a time of crisis?

Thought not.
I’m ready for you.
Come on boots...start walkin’

Second odd thing, and you have been warned...not a godloving word, do you hear.
Last night, finally I slept, after a fashion you understand...guided and protected by one quarter of Tina’s magic pill [really got you going on this one, haven’t  I?]  I slept anyway.  I had said goodnight to my loved ones by way of the badly written texts, sent NOAO son home and had completely come to the conclusion that Palliative care was going to be it..the turned heads, the lowered look, the pat phrases...l just thought Oh well.

But I did sleep and awoke in a tangled dissaray. Time? perhaps five hours later...Tina’s pills are the biz...and for a girl such as l, a drug free space filled only with the lovely deadly nicotine, any pill will send me.
So I’m awake and so disorientated. I sit up, untangle the clothes and stagger to the floor. A nurse appears, a dim fugure taking care of a true patient. ‘Go back to bed...’ she says.
‘Yes, I will, ‘ I say...but l need to tell her. ‘I’m fine, truly Im ok.’ No that she appears  to mind whether I am ok or not...she’s is misty, odd.
But I am fine, I truly am.
I know.
I have no pain.
I am not confused or scared.
Whatever the outcome l KNOW all is well.
Weird or what?
Made the mistake of telling someone - it was as if someone's hand had been put  on my head.

Night night
[most of this was written in the semi-dark, in the middle of the night and disorientated awakenings - and I felt it justified to replicate without too much editing or cleaning up,  there are a few more coming up, after which we will be back in real time - Moannie]

Wednesday 9 November 2011

A few hours later...

Tomorrow (Monday) I will have the biopsy which will decide my fate.

but first this side bar...

it is Sunday. I was admitted Tuesday and have been pricked and bled, rayed and scanned and in those few days I have gone from  nasty cough to nasty shadow to needing a stent to open the blood supply to some vital organs.

(Mum writes this as if it were a nothing- it was in fact critical- some perspective please Mum. btw I do have her permission to interject at will)

And I have been so sleep deprived that I had begun to believe I was invisible! Thanks in part to the steroid high.

With decision day looming NOAOSon decided that if I couldn't sleep and he couldn't either, he would come and sit with me until I slept. A lovely idea.

However we did rather misbehave.

Complaints were apparently made and we were stonily asked to please keep the noise down. I was sorry and docile but NOAOSon said that we only kept our noise to the level of the ward - why was there for example a bell continuously ringng, machines buzzing, a nebulizer which had not been turned off and a trauma inpatient  fretfully looking for his wife?

Staff Nurse left to consult the Sister and returned with the offer of a private sideroom, complete with en-suite and cable telly. Bizarre or what!

I moved in with suitable gratitude thinking of the silence - the absolute bliss of silence - I would sleep at last - for the first time in 5 days I might get more than 3 hours.

well NOAOSon left at 12.40am and it is now 2.35am. the silence is so complete that my wheeze is deafening and frightening - a spider is playing Cirque de Soleil acrobatics above my head and I thin there is a ghost in the corridor.

I hope tomorrows news will get me home.

                                 Milou is lost.
                                               and JP is getting too settled with half the village looking after him.

Moannie x
(Mum has asked me to tell you, that she is so grateful and overwhelmed by your support, love and words of kindness in the last week. I am feeding her your comments and emails. She probably will not be writing here herself for now, she prefers to give me her words to post on her behalf. But she has every word you send in her heart, filling her with strength and courage. Mum thanks you and  I and my siblings thank you. Saz)

Tuesday 8 November 2011


There is a humour, quick, hot, RAW, cruel, hilarious in a cancer ward; at least there is in mine - or perhaps it is an unquenchable bubble of the ridiculous in me that sees humour in most things that are taboo to others.

Dignity goes by the west window - boundaries stretch like Popeye's biceps - no gentrified metaphors - no euphemisms but the cancer word is always accompanied by descriptive names, angry adjectives and the vilest epithets.

We survive

A woman screams next door and in the ward behind me a man calls loudly,
'Murder! Murder!,

'Call the Police' she screams, he calls the Police.

June and I - cohorts, funny bones in sync; exchange side glances and begin to giggle - just a slight shaking of shoulders, bobbing movement of the hips. I tell June my theory of sound and mind pictures; a theory expanded by twice daily ingestion of the miracle of steroids, which seem to boost whatever bare minimum of talent you never have shown an interest in.

For example; one night shortly after my first dose. I wrote - in my head and in the middle of the night while all around slept- nine chapters of a thesis on the joys, perils, rights and wrongs of hedonism - a subject on which, I swear to God, I know nothing more than seen in 'the velvet something or other'

One night I solved an equation, 'DUH!!' and another I began a sitcom situated in a  cancer ward and so it was not a great stretch to explain how one can or cannot live with weird sounds:

'It goes a bit like this....'

I began, already feeling the thrill of the laugh we were about to have,

'Mrs Tourettes of the mouth goes -
'la baba, la baba, la baba'

and I mean ad infinitum - and we are going mad, needing sleep more than a druggy needs his fix

' It is possible to survive this June', I say,
'What you do is this: you close your eyes and listen for the rhythm; doobly, doobly, dooble dum, repeated at a constant pace in that low voice she is using. Now it is possible to envisage a small herd of Pyrenean mountain goats running across a wooden bridge...'

June's head tips to the side and gives it some thought.

'Yep i can visualise that; small, furry, horny, rough wood. Got it!  (Double entendre) ... doobly, doobly, dooble dum, "   "    "   "  A HA!!!!'

but then, just as you are about to drop off, lulled by this visual and aural comfort, she suddenly changes tack,
and doobly, doobly, dooble dum, suddenly goes dolacky, dolacky, dolacky ad infinitum.

Bringing us back from the arms of Morpheus just in time to hear Nora scream again and the man yells
' Bloody Murder call the police!'

It is about now that June and I erupt. Squirming with tightly crossed legs and streaming eyes and to finish off the whole debacle off to perfection: Nellie- a rather prim and quaint lady who has been listening with increasing wonderment, sneezes loudly and fires off the loudest 3 gun fart I have ever heard.

Collapse of 3 stout ladies.

( more of this sunday post to come shortly.. don't go away)


(posts are chronological, but may be a few days later as I receive them, handwritten then decipher. And yes as I have been asked, if you wish email me  I will try and update you as I am able, Saz)

Saturday 5 November 2011

And so...

The x-ray led the way to a scan that showed it clearly. A nasty stranger had invaded me! Invited.

Next step - identify.We thought in our grasping ignorance.

Our particular god is Greek. She is guarded and protected by her acolytes, who poke, prod and probe her young clean and clear of bug or germ or age or fear! They smile, nod and pass through words back to the messenger, who take down every word on her Apple-mac.
                                        They tell me nothing.
                                                     But Toni does.

I've swollen face, neck and throat - I look like my mother times 3. A Shrek monster, pale green and grey hair, thin and lifeless, My arms and hands stiff with oedema, bear testimony to fruitless searches for veins. I blame the massive dose of steroids - my friend now because it soothes the beast that clings with dirty nails to my tender bronchi and lung tissue. Even as it gives me huge appetite (I see beauty all around me) and keeps me awake all night. But it was the beast blocking the major artery, Toni tells me; so the biopsy must wait - a blow. For the beast is quick to grow, aggressive and greedy.

So I have a stent inserted by a team of demi gods drilled to perfection.

I trained in '55 which is to 2011 as the invention of the wheel is to mapping of the human genome.

I watch as a catheter is inserted into the artery in my thigh and passing, painlessly up to a major cloud of white that's blocking and compressing the dark artery- deep in my chest. 

The surgeon patiently, kindly answers my questions and seems to be as enthralled as I at the magic he performs when the stent opens and blood gushes through - he takes my hand and asks,

'Can you feel any difference?'

and I think that I must say something encouraging - a small white lie would surely be allowed! I touch my face and start to say,

'It feels less taut, stretched...!'

and then I say, in wonder, 'It is!' -  the tenderness has gone, the skin is softer, I swear.

By the time NOAOSon and Lita Mona appear, they are shocked and delighted that I am a deal less scary and Sara, who arrives later - a wonderful surprise - appears to have been drawn down here on false pretences.

And as I am drawn back into the world by my push me/ pull me duo of porters, I ride high on my bed delighted to fighting back.

      The first fecking blow.
                           Take that!

Goodnight my loves.

Moannie x

Friday 4 November 2011

My thoughts...

I had thought it best to just say 'bye' - let you go.

Let you down easily - but the more I considered, the more I felt that those of you who cared - really cared in this odd universe, where total strangers become loved ones - deserved to be treated as such.

And so I shall be chronicling this new - last journey with you - the truth as it happens, with clarity and humour

- for even the gallows' humour is a necessity.


(whilst Mum is in hospital I shall be posting her words here and recounting your words to her in turn. Saz)

Monday 31 October 2011

...and then this happened...

I thought I was OK, that I had got off  Scot Free. But no, something is lurking on my xrays that may or may not be old scars.

Haven't been feeling too good lately.

CT scan yesterday so hopefully I can give whatever it is a name-and start to see it off.

Just to let you know why I've been quiet.

Sunday 16 October 2011


I have been having flashes of a an image, rather like some cheesy 'whodunnit' where the heroine with repressed memories sees fragmented scenes of a faceless  man ...a tattooed  arm...a shoe crunching on broken glass, you get the picture. Usually it is the genre of film where she goes up into the attic of the very old unlit house during a violent thunderstorm and we know the assailant is there, waiting and playing very creepy music to ease her way up the stairs.

My flashbacks are thankfully totally benign. They are of me, on a bicycle aged 16 1/2 on a lovely summer's day in 1950 ; visions brought on, I have no doubt, by the book I am reading at the moment by Frank McCourt  'Tis, the sequel to his masterpiece Angela's Ashes. The time line is familiar and his story of the pale sore-eyed semi-literate fighting against all odds to study, his longing to belong, to be able to discuss Dostoevsky with other students,  to know how to talk to girls/anyone in authority shamed as he is by bad teeth and eyes like 'piss holes in the snow' -resonates with me.

So there I am riding the deserted Sunday lunchtime  streets of The Bay; I know where I have been and where I am going.

 I have just come from the house of a couple who are close to my current boyfriend Hugh. Hugh is an orphan and he is a fairground boxer. The Hudsons live in a fine detached house...a Grange or a Lodge with out- buildings, a gravel drive and a paddock behind the house.  Mr. Hudson has two artificial legs...Mrs Hudson is the image of Googie Withers.  They are superior beings.  They have a library in their house, a small room of crammed shelving, a dark wood table and two leather chairs.  He asks what would I like to drink and I catch Hugh's eye, he looks as non-plussed as I.  I ask for a Port and Lemon because it is the only drink I have heard of...I do not know what Port is but with the lemon in there it should be drinkable.  He serves it to me in a cocktail glass with a piece of fruit I do not recognise stuck to the rim.  I don't know if I must eat the fruit  before or after taking the drink. or must I not eat the fruit at all.  Hugh is drinking water and the Hudson's  something clear containing something on a stick but I watch them anyway. She takes the stick out of her drink and nibbles at the green berry, while he holds the stick out of the way while draining the drink, then he puts the berry into his mouth. No help to me.   I sip my drink, it is delicious and the smell of the fruit begs me to put it in my mouth.  It is pineapple though I do not know that, I just know that it is delicious and juicy and I want more. I drain my glass and eat the fruit. I am offered another and because I have no knowledge of how to behave I accept.

These are pre-lunch drinks; the Hudsons and Hugh are going on somewhere... sounds very exotic to me. I say goodbye and ride my bicycle very fast all the way home. I think that the Hudsons thought I was unsuitable for Hugh...He did have the most elegant manners for all that he was a Fairground boxer. Perhaps they adopted  him. The sun was warm on my legs and the drink had worn off by the time I reached home. I never said a word to mum.

Sunday 9 October 2011


SATURDAY : JP is downstairs with an English friend watching France-England in the World cup. England are getting clobbered and [bless him] JP's usual ecstatic yells for French victory are subdued- I even heard him tell the chap- 'Not to worry-Eengland always comes back in ze second 'alf.'

He has been up since six...walking a very startled but grateful dog, trying his best not to make a noise. I have not let him know that I have been awake since five.

Yesterday Dr. D. came for a home visit. Dear Dr. D.

How to describe him without him appearing to be in some way too odd? If you did not know him and were asked to give him a profession you would answer, an aesthete...theologian perhaps...a Quantum Physicist with bad social skills...very slightly autistic... not too great at the tactile business of Doctoring...very shy and extremely funny in a throwaway mumble aimed at his desk blotter. Wears tweed summer and winter. He has never let me down, misdiagnosed or rushed me when in full-self-diagnostic flow.

He was on holiday when I needed him last week and his Locum gave me all of four minutes, and a prescription for antibiotics. I faithfully took them, they made me drowsy, killed what small appetite I had, did nothing for the cough which combined with awful intercostal pain made breathing a challenge.

Dr.D did a number of things which did not involve touching, though he did listen to my chest and to me, that is his forte...he knows what to take on board and what to discard. He prescribed a limited dose of Steroids.


The man's a genius. I sent JP next door to fill the script and took the first one  that day. Slept like a baby that night so that on Saturday morning I leapt out of bed, took in a lung full of air and felt no pain.
I cleaned the cat's Poo-palace and surrounding area. Vacuumed and dusted, showered, blow dried my hair, put on some slap and  presented myself downstairs all before breakfast...and still felt capable of doing more.

SUNDAY: I'm on my third day of these wonderful recuperative s, four more to go and I dread to think  how I shall manage without them-why I do believe they are having an effect on my brain power.

But then again... the smart bugger has probably given me placebo's - aware [as he is] of my utter belief in his powers and having diagnosed this last illness as 'all in the mind'. has worked.

PS: 14th smokeless day.

Sunday 2 October 2011

What's up Doc?

100 words: an exercise encouraged by Mr London Street.

I'm early, he’s late. Forty minutes; enough time to imagine a thousand ways to die.

The duty Doctor- he’s new to me, but he knows me from the screen.

‘What seems to be the trouble?’  I hate that question  with the emphasis on ‘seems’ if  we love the surgery so much with it’s uncomfortable  red leather seating  and ‘whoop on a loop’ music  we will make up sickness just to be here.

I don’t lie; I tell him I felt ill and chesty before I stopped smoking.

He listened; ‘breathe’ and here ‘breathe’ then ‘again’.

‘A bad chest infection.’


Tuesday 27 September 2011


Actually it is Plus one and a bit.

Saturday was a bad day. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I had managed to delay my first  ciggie until after lunch, the idea being that if I delayed it a little every day I would end up living in a smokeless zone by week two.
But Saturday was a bad day and I fell right off the wagon. By the end of what was a stressful day  I felt thoroughly ashamed and not a little nauseous.

Sunday: Today I became a non-smoker. It wasn't too hard because I had chest pains, nausea and a mouth like an ashtray.  Sunday was Day One.

Monday: Today was a strange day; I thought about having a cigarette constantly, but now have the mind-set of a non-smoker [I shall be berating smokers next]  and quickly found something else to do. This afternoon I fell asleep on the couch for 1:1/2 tired...bed at 9;30pm.

Tuesday: I can't imagine that I will give in now...and return to Day one: minus.  I can only think that the reason I feel so sleepy is because I have not slept properly for a long time.  My lungs no longer ache and coughing stopped. Fingers crossed. Actually feeling very proud of myself.   Was it too easy? Will I not receive the kudos I deserve.?

Thanks to you all who wrote to encourage me...I would have felt a right Wally had I let you and myself down.

Monday 19 September 2011

DAY ONE: Minus four.


I have been feeling odd; bit of a cough as expected after 64 years of the weed, light-headed yet achy behind the eyes nose and cheek-bones...classic allergy symptoms I've been telling myself when my thought process turns to the most obvious and, some would say, most deserved diagnosis.

But it is the sharp pain under my ribs [ diagnosed by me as intercostal cartilage strain or inflammation of:-] which  is the one symptom, the final symptom which leads me to the decision that I Must Quit.

 To that end I dug in the rubbish drawer for the Niquitin lozenges from my last attempt, only remembering the foulness of them on sucking the first one. I sauntered next door but two to the Chemist - our usual glorious Pharmacist - she of the ebony skin, silken dreadlocks and the whitest truest smile was on holiday and her Locum, a tall elderly taciturn man with a full head of white hair and moustache to rival that of  Dick van Dyke's Dr. Sloan, suggested, when I asked if there had been a breakthrough and had someone thought to flavour the wretched things so that they were palatable, wandered around the aisles and suggested that 'perhaps if I bought some strong mints and sucked along with a lozenge...'

That was Day one: minus one. I lasted until 1pm. I tried keeping busy, but one has to sit down sometime and Milou didn't feel like giving up his afternoon cuddle on the sofa with mum, Doctors, Flog it and Countdown.
My count was six that day...which I felt was a credible effort.
Day One:  minus  two and three followed pretty much the same pattern except that I think I must be holding my breath or somehow controlling the strength of the breaths I do take because though I slept well enough the intercostal pain was worse this morning.

Took another stroll to the Chemist...tablets are mint flavoured but at  £15. Hell's Bells. Forget it. I will quit, but slowly using will power. [famous last words?]

Just Googled Intercostal Cartilage and I think I have been 'Bracing'. Yup!

Life in the old girl yet.

Will no doubt be flagging Day one when it arrives.

I looked for a suitable illustration on Google Images but they are all too preachy, too worthy , patronising or just bonkers; as if we are not aware of the dangers involved in sucking up the tarry smoke.  Then I thought of the very old song by Phil Harris:

 Smoke smoke smoke that cigarette 
                        Puff, puff puff and if you smoke yourself to death
                              Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate, that you hate to make him wait
              But you just gotta have another cigarette.

This song came out in  1939/40 and it was one of the songs in Mother's meagre collection [the B side wassomething about a card game: I remember: Now sitting right there in that there clan, there chanced to be a one-eyed man and he kep' starin' at me out the corner of his' ol' one eye would deal and then, it cost Bill another five or ten....]

So even then they knew. 1]that nicotine is addictive and 2] It was/is harmful.

Friday 9 September 2011


The other day I took a bus into the Bay. It was the first bus I'd been on since we bought the car so, maybe it has been at least ten years since we were without transport.  Even then we would eschew public transport, preferring to walk to the end of the road and then down the Downs along the seafront and into town that way. Of course we were both ten years younger then and the short mile was nothing to us [although laden with shopping we would always taxi back up the hill]

Now the car is gone; not too lamented when we count the money saved and bask in eco. glory of a little less pollution,but  there are times when we have to go to town and this was one of them. I couldn't ask NOAOson, who takes us to our weekly big shop out of town as his plate was overflowing at the time and I needed to browse the Charity shops-not a necessary journey but I needed my fix.

So there I was, waiting for the  10-10 bus. It was late and I was reassured to see there was another elderly woman waiting with me.
A small single decker arrived and I followed the woman inside, flashing my bus pass at the driver. He tutted, took the card and shoved it upside down over the thingummy plate and I moved inside and wedged myself in the only free seat on the sideways bench next to a very fat, beautifully made up lady of an age between 18 and 80.

The air was redolent of talcum powder, Ralgex, Lavender water, Christmas gifts of Givenchy Gentleman, my own [thankfully liberally applied ] Mitsouko, and a faint but definite whiff of Eau de Urine.

From my sideways bench I could see down the bus and every seat was occupied by a Senior Citizen with heads bearing every shade of hair from snow white to iron grey, with some bluish and pinky horrors to season the pot. But the most surprising thing-used as I was to the silence of a London bus, where the journey is a trial to be undertaken with as much speed and anonymity as possible lest one is made visible to the drunk, noisy and potentially violent-here there was a raucous cacophony of sound composed of conversations carried across the aisle, much laughter, and in one instance, singing by two couples along the back seat.

Snatches of speech:

'She didn't!'
'She bloody did.'

'I said to 'im, if you want it you can lug it upstairs.'
'My, Jim had one of them.'
'Was it worth it?'
'Nah! Could have done it meself.'  The mind boggles.

'My boy's coming down this weekend.'
'That's nice.'
'He's got a Bentley.'
'If I 'ad a Bentley I'd sell it.'
'Well he's got two.'

'Donald wanted a chop but at those prices I said it's mince or nothing.'

I  alighted  at the top of the High Street, thanking the surly driver who grunted and swished the door shut before I'd hit the pavement.

Now I'm trying to decide on a collective noun for a clutch of OAP's-and as it includes myself it has to be a good one, flatteringly descriptive of our Joi de vivre.

How about: A Survival of Seniors:

Tuesday 6 September 2011


One and two halves a reprint from 2009

by Moannie

We were three, though for a long time, it was just Mick, my older half-brother and me. 

I was Pollyanna  [well, Mollyanne a] always smiling, not a great thinker, a follower, his shadow. He could make the sounds of instruments with his mouth; drums of all types, a flute a  Saxophone.  I sang  'Money is the root of all evil'  and he played along, all jazzy, like the music we'd only recently discovered. He was wound tight, St. Edith's had done that to him. He kept secrets the way he kept his sweets in their paper bag, all screwed up in his pocket so that he had to suck the paper off. Never shared. I would eat my weekly twopenny worth of Bulls-eyes, or Humbugs or toffees in one go, stuffing my cheeks and sussing up the streaming saliva, then beg 'G'us one,' but he never would. 

After St. Edith's it was just him and me...playing Dick Barton:Special Agent in the hidey hole under the eaves, or we'd play shops with the meagre contents of mum's kitchen, or Jazz bands. We'd sprawl on mum's divan bed with the tapestry cover of a jungle scene with lions and tigers and he'd be Tarzan to my Jane, or we'd play mum's few records over and over and he would copy the instruments until I could not tell if it was the record or him playing the snare drum or the trumpet. When Harry was there, before mum married him, we would leave the house and run, always run - to the park, or to the bridge over the railway where we would gaze in fascination as the snorting black and shiny monsters chuntered along the tracks.

He grew up to be tight-lipped, quick to quip, holding nothing dear. If St. Edith's was the cause, he never told me...he grew a moustache and a goatee beard, and he grew away from me. He wanted no ties of love, or emotion, not even for his mother who died with just me there, holding her hand. He came to her funeral, then left. We have not met since then, thirty years ago.

When Tony was born I was ten and Mick twelve. I fell in love instantly. At first I was forbidden to go near him, then gradually I became useful. He was the Prince-the chosen one, the wartime baby who needed the butter and the orange juice, eggs and milk and sweets [candy], all rationed, but he blossomed and thrived even though his baby teeth grew out in blackened and decayed stumps he was still beautiful and I adored him, which was just as well as he became my shadow as soon as he could walk. Mick dropped me like a hot potato and it was then Tony and me.
 But there was something in him that curdled, like milk left out in the sun, and the loving brother grew up and became someone else, self-absorbed, a braggart, an opinionated - the French have the perfect word which translates as near as dammit to- a...hole.

When mum was dying I called him-he turned over and went back to sleep.

We tried, many times to get back to something resembling family, but it was false and finally failed and it has been many years now since there was any contact.

There are many and valid reasons why they became what they are-and why I am who I am. Mick never knew his father, adored his mother and watched her abandon us then make a disastrous marriage and cling to it, even though we, the reasons why she married were anathema to the man and we hated him. He escaped through National Service in Suez and never went back home to live. Tony was wanted and loved and spoiled, but was born of Harry's gene pool. He loved his father, had no reason not to, but he was left alone with mum when I left home at eighteen and she began her long fight with Multiple Sclerosis and he despised her as weak.

I had no spine, no backbone, I wanted the fairy story, the loving father and mother, the laughing playing siblings, the gingerbread house, the happy ending.
I do not miss my half-brothers-they only ever made me unhappy, bringing JP to anger and me to agonise over each visit.

And in the end I made my own fairy tale.