Thursday, 25 February 2010

Term Begins

What a difference a seriously blue sky can make even in the fridge like conditions current. All around me a few days ago were the various creaking and cracking sounds of peoples shoulders un-hunching and jaws unclenching as they looked up in in wonder at what is known as sunlight.

It didn’t last of course. On Monday Grace and I woke to several centimetres of icy sludge masquerading as snow and by the time we got to Bath for our creative writing class it was pouring with the kind of rain that always manages sneaking icily down the back of your neck no matter how many scarfs you stuff down your coller. ('Grace in Snow' (c) T. Bush)

It is wonderful to be back in class at last. I get my entire week packed into one very very long day; a three hour seminar in the morning followed by another in the afternoon and usually a two hour lecture event in the evening. By the time I get back to Cambridge on the Wednesday evening I am weaving and woolly eyed with weariness.

('Class' (c) T.Bush)

But mostly very happy!! Me..the kid who hated classrooms!

Well that is apart from last week and the incident at Edgware Road.. A signal failure at rush hour left Grace and I squeezed onto a train that sat sulking with its doors open, refusing to move.

Eveyone groaned and sunk into their books and newspapers but then, from the other side of the packed carriage, a voice shouts out;

'Look look at the doggie. I wanna hug the doggie!!'

I peer into the blur. This is not the voice of a toddler. This is at first glance an average middle aged woman wearing a duffel coat (couldn't tell you which colour anymore) and huge glasses. I see her eyes. They are gleaming with excitement. She has someone accompanying her - a sofa of an Afro Caribbean minder taking up two of the seats next to her.

'Shhh,' says the minder. 'The dog is working.'

'WHY?' shouts the woman

'The dog is the lady’s eyes.' hisses the fat sofa lady tugging the other one down back into her seat.

'What’s wrong with your eyes?' shouts duffel coat lady at me. 'Are you blind? Can you see anything? Can you? CAN YOU??? I WANNA STROKE THE DOGGIE!!'

Her minder obviously inured to this woman's huge and exhausting presence yawns and starts talking on her cell phone. At no point does she actually make eye contact with me....she just lets the woman rant in the crammed and edgy carriage. I try and make calm, quiet responses but this just seems to excite the woman further.

'Can I STROKE your DOGGIE??'

Gawd! After five minutes of this I am tempted to start shouting across at the duffel coat ‘You have a minder? Can I stoke your minder?? Are you a crazy lady?? Half crazy?? How crazy ARE you? I WANNA HUG YOUR MINDER!!! '

I look around for a hero, some lean jawed type to gently pluck Grace and I up and carry us far, far away ... but there is only the spotty young man next to me who is cringing so much with English embarrassment he nearly cricks his neck.

(Sigh.) (image from internet)

In other news my sister has moved into her new vicarage in Radstock and it is rather lovely. Its where Grace and I will set up base when doing our weekly commute to Bath.

And next week my Dad finishes his first grisly round of chemo and flies to Pretoria for tests. We are all on tenterhooks (what on earth is a tenterhook??) as these test will be the very ones that decide his next round of treatment. Remission? Stem cell therapy? More horrible chemo?

But worrying doesn't help. Just gives me mouth ulcers and a clicking jaw. Sexy eh? Seems the only superhero coming to my rescue is 'Blistex and Rennie' Man.

Will keep calm. Will keep you posted.
(Buddha in the Vicarage' (c) T.Bush)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Bum's Rush

Grace and I are in the eye clinic waiting room. Here is a picture of my knees.
Its already been an hour which is nothing. Time is not paid enough on the NHS to bother to do its job properly. It crawls and meanders, idles by the water cooler, plays endless games on its mobile.

The bearded man opposite me is trying to distract his hyper-active six year old. She is wriggling on her seat, threatening to escape and run off down the dull grey corridor.
‘Hey Leah,’ her father cajoles. ‘We can do some drawing.’ He is reaching into his briefcase for paper and biros.
But its crap, daddy!’ shrieks the little munchkin pushing her heavy glasses further up her button nose. ‘Crap!
The waiting room falls briefly into a shocked silence. The bearded man doesn’t look up as he pulls a notepad onto his lap. He coughs and then mutters, wincing
‘No..its SCRAP paper darling,’ he says. ‘SCRAP.’

Amazingly I am only in this purgatory for two hours before being shuffled into a small room where I am met by a gruesomely efficient young woman with a bindi on her forehead. My pupils are dilated though, my sight distorted and fuzzy so it might have been one hell of a zit.
She looks like she is sitting A- levels but I presume is in her mid twenties. An ophthalmology student I presume. She doesn’t bother introducing herself but instead steps over Grace politely, checks my eyes and declares me fit to go with a cursory glance at my file. ‘Oh I see you need a field vision test. We’ll book you in for one next year.’

Next year, I am thinking, are you crazy? I need to know what is going on now...why is my colour vision leaching so fast? Can you give me any good news? A more detailed prognosis...? What of current treatments..?

I make some kind of gabbling sound choked with all the questions and anxieties I have been storing up over the last twelve months but its too late and this woman just doesn’t give a ..scrap.
I am given the bum’s rush.

Yes, it was very upsetting but at least I am not in the same boat as my dear friend C who at 89 years old was sat in the adjacent waiting room with a blanket over her knees. She went in with an eye emergency and was told her eye was haemorrhaging at 11am. She was finally seen by the consultant at 18.30 that night having sat in a cold corner of that eye clinic for nearly 8 hours whilst the consultant saw ‘priorities’. She knows she needs an injection of Lucentis for her macular degeneration but it is over £1000. image from internet
‘I get the impression they don’t want to treat me,’ she says today when Grace and I visit. ‘I am too old to be worth the cost of the drugs.’

We sit and watch the birds on her bird table outside the window. There is a robin; brown, blood- red and white and puffed up like a little ophthalmology consultant. I can see him though not clearly and I describe him to C. She sighs and nods wondering about her future.

I try not to think about mine.

image from the internet