Awwwww...remember this? a?
I’ve been thinking about that book I read last week – the cancer sufferer’s autobiography. It’s one of those books that stay with you; I can see why it was a best-seller when it was first published, and, like I said, I’ve been thinking about it. Actually, it wasn’t until I read it that I realized that chemotherapy is all about the administration of caustic chemicals into the body; drugs that attack and destroy the cancerous cells, a process which, unfortunately, also destroys some of the normal ones at the same time. Hence, the traumatic and painful side-effects, such as hair-loss, cracked skin and blisters, which are experienced and related by my autobiographer. The name is a bit of a giveaway really - chemo-therapy - and I find it quite shocking that I didn’t know this; particularly when cancer is one of the biggest killers in this country, coming second to heart disease, and when, statistically, approximately half of the population will contract cancer in one form or another during their life-times.
I don’t want to make this selfishly all about me – albeit, I am writing my autobiography - but on a personal level, I have identified a huge gap in my knowledge (and not the only one, I’m sure): illness and disease. I suppose we mostly seek out and acquire knowledge that is pertinent to ourselves, and (I’m glad to say) my experience of illness (and death, for that matter) is minimal. As a child, I never wanted to be a nurse. As an adult, I am rarely ill (*touches wood*). I can’t remember the last time I saw my doctor, and I think several have retired since I last visited the surgery. I usually get a bad cold or a bout of flu on an annual basis, around the onset of winter. In the event of which I grab the opportunity to take to my bed for a couple of days, with a bottle of brandy and a few tasty provisions: to ‘sweat it out’ and ‘tempt my appetite’. But even that eluded me last year.
I was talking to a woman the other week, who habitually suffers with her health. I reckon she’s had all the tests going, from scans to needles, poor thing. She has done her own extensive research into symptoms on the internet, and can carry out an admirable diagnosis and prognosis. She also knows about the ups and downs of certain medication, which she claims is ‘swings and roundabouts’ and ‘a bit of a lottery’, and she advises, 'for God's sake stay out of hospital. You'll end up with more than you went in with.' I’m in no position to argue, really. The little experience I’ve had with the NHS has been a positive one - my broken leg, remember. Feeling quite self-conscious and mildly guilty about my own rude health, I threw the sickened woman some consolatory comment about the probability of me suddenly dropping dead one day with a massive heart-attack. This apparently made her feel a bit better about things.
Another day. Another book. Another example of working-class luck.
Guess what I’m reading now...
‘Looking back, I can see I was a lucky little girl who had a very happy childhood. We never had much money left over from essentials, and we didn’t have one of the highly prized two-up, two-down terraced houses. Me mam would have killed to have one of those, because living in the flat meant that we didn’t have our own front door. We either had to come in through the barber’s shop, which me mam hated doing, or when the shop was closed we came in through the back entry on William Moult Street.’
(well, it's another contemporary working-class woman who found success and fame through a particular personal talent, and with the assistance of a bit o' luck, of course.)
I have read a lot of books (and done a lot of things, for that matter) where I have thought to myself at the end, ‘What a waste of time that was!’
I am glad I read this book, though. It is about one working-class woman’s fight against cancer
(and the following extract is taken from the same autobiography as referred to in my previous blog.)
‘Cancer has worked for me…Not for a second did I ever believe I would die…I know I’m not a realist, but my sense of tomorrow is so vivid, I have such a lot to finish and start, and besides, I haven’t had my finest hour…I always thought the planet beautiful, thought myself sensitive to nature, leaving no trace of myself on the landscape, trying not to crush life with a careless footfall and resisting the urge to pick flowers for fear of hearing them scream. Since becoming aware of my mortality, the world had changed to technicolour and I’m in awe at the wonder of it all. There is something inspiring about a slender solitary weed thrusting for life through concrete. I’m surrounded by survival, despite the odds, and my own determination is renewed.’
She won this particular battle, but not the war. In 1995, she eventually succumbed to lymphatic cancer
N.B: A simple twist of fate.
guess what I'm reading...(and it's a signed 1st edition!)
'Luck plays a great part in success...I won the show. Luck again. My opening line, shouted to an imaginary stage-hand in the wings, was supposed to be: "Will you switch these fans off, please? I'm getting sucked up."'
Phew…this lovely weather is not conducive to reading books about punctuation.
This lovely weather has me wishing I was on a beach somewhere by the seaside. As this is not practicable at the moment, I was going to listen to one my favourite music tracks instead, which imaginatively takes me there: Bob Dyaln’s Mozambique.
So, I found out that Dylan (and/or his record company) has prevented most of his original material from being freely available on the internet; it used to be on 'You Tube', but not any longer.
I found this cover version, which ain't too bad.
Seriously, I have quite over-thought punctuation, and I now need to get a book in order to clarify it’s complexities.
I can see why Virginia Wollf went/was mad. (Not that I’m comparing myself to that amazing writer, of course) Although, it might be a good idea to adopt a stream of consciousness technique myself; that way I could just leave out punctuation altogether.
But then again, a part of me thinks that, as a working-class woman writer, it is my job to challenge literary conventions; in which case, I’m quite entitled to run amok with such things as punctuation, vocabulary, grammar, content, structure, form and even spelling - be it deliberate or otherwise.
This all leads me to ponder - Is it a good idea for me to do a degree in Creative Writing?
I shall go mad. I shall go mad.
So, I am going to the library, right now, to get a book about punctuation.
In the meantime, check out my website about working-class women writers.
Phewwwww….great day in the garden, tho.
Gather rose buds, while you can.
Now is the summer of my miscontent. This is mine own worst enemy … ; … (i.e: the semi-colon)
It sha’n’t get the better on me. I will suss it out. And, henceforth, I will put it to good practice and use, use, use it to my advantage; whilst gently putting to death bourgeois punctuation. I will surreptiously fashion my own vocabulary and grammar, and they will learn to speak my language on my own terms.
...it would be an honour and a privilege.
Attention: I have no blog today, as I'm quite expired by the heat (can't be arsed) and my memory glands are temporarily inhibited.
one day they're moaning about the rain; next the heat.
btw: playing one's radio loudly when folks are sunbathing on their lawn (albeit weedless and comparatively small, but manageable. The way I like it)) is the root of all evil.
nah. niche. nocky. noo, nine. no.
and word of the day is 'snarky'
ah, just spent a pleasant afternoon on the Speed Awareness Course. And very interesting it was, too.
Just popped in to say that my blog and I are taking a short break. I have several books to read, and I find it hard to multi-task - crossed-wires and all that.
However, I am more than sure that this reading of books will be beneficial, and will inform my future writings. : )
When I said that one of my female co-workers was having relationship problems; it wasn’t just out of idle gossip. Her work was suffering, and one day she broke down in tears. I suggested that she move in with us at my mum’s house, until she got things sorted out with her boyfriend. I was sure my mum wouldn’t mind, and, being a dutiful Christian, she would grasp the opportunity to help a person in need. Besides, the woman could give us some money towards board and lodging... So, she moved in with us. Like I said, she’d had some training at the Agricultural College, and she'd also had some experience working with horses. (Incidentally, this was the person from whom I bought the previously mentioned Triumph Spitfire.) Shortly after she had settled in with us, she got a little grey horse on short-term loan, and stabled it at the same place I kept mine. All in all, things worked out quite well, for a while. We would help each other out, feeding and watering the horses when the other was working - it was rather difficult trying to juggle the long hours of shift-work with looking after the horses. At least during the summer, the horses would live out in the field, and were hardly any trouble at all. There was another horse in the yard, which was owned by a middle-aged married woman. She and her husband shared the horse. Once, we all clubbed together and hired a horsebox, and took our horses to Markfield Equestrian Centre for a showjumping event. To tell the truth, my horse and I didn’t do very well with the showjumping. A good showjumper costs time and money. I had never schooled my horse in jumping, and, on reflection, it was asking a bit too much of her to do an actual course, in what was an enormous indoor arena. She was fast though: she could beat anything on the flat. I guess, it was a case of ‘horses for courses’, as the saying goes.
Once, I had a riding lesson on a really expensive horse. The owner said it was worth around £7,000.00. The horse was like nothing I’d ever ridden before. It just knew what to do. It seemed to move telepathically. You just had to point it at a jump, and go with it. It didn’t rush, either; it took everything in a measured stride, and popped effortlessly over a fence. It was just incredible. This happened a few years previous to my working on the buses, when I briefly worked at a professional show yard. The owner was quite famous in the showing world: he showed hunters, in particular. I had seen him in the magazine, ‘Horse and Hound’. I worked at the yard for a couple of weeks, on a trial period. As it happened, my time there coincided with the Horse of the Year Show, at Wembley. The owner was going to show several of his horses there, so I had to go along. It was an interesting experience, seeing behind the scenes of such an enormous and prestigious event. I memorably witnessed a professional showjumper repeatedly ride his horse over a fence, in the practice ring. Every time the horse jumped, a person on the ground would quickly lift the top pole, so the horse got smacked on the lower legs. The object of this, I imagine, was to encourage the horse to lift it’s legs; thus, avoiding knocking down the fence. I got an outlasting impression of a viciously competitive world. The person I was working for had one of those enormous horse boxes, that had sleeping compartments situated behind the cab. It was so uncomfortable. I didn’t sleep well, and felt exhausted the next day. After my two weeks trial period were up, I didn’t stay. Apart from the privilege of looking after some really exquisite animals, the position didn’t pay well (as per usual) and it was quite boring; unlike the hustle and bustle of working at a riding school. Well, 'horses for courses': this job was not for me
Working on the buses was great fun, and relatively well-paid. This job enabled me to buy my first really nice car – a three-door (hatchback) gold-coloured Ford Fiesta. I bought it from the Ford Garage in Coalville, and it was nearly new. (I saw a similar one the other day, and thought how odd it looked: cars used to be a lot more angular, then.) I was amongst the very first drivers to be employed on the new ‘Foxcub’ service. There were about twelve of us altogether; there were three other women besides myself. We hadn’t driven for a living before, so had to be trained specifically for the job. One of the women used to work in one of the textiles factories in Whitwick, which I mentioned earlier, making swimsuits. One of the other women had a qualification from the Agricultural College. She lived with her boyfriend, but they were having domestic difficulties and he had a drink problem. So, needs must, I suppose. We were all kitted-out with brand new uniforms: light-blue shirt; ‘foxcub’ tie; dark-blue cotton jacket; and, for us ladies, a dark blue skirt. When we started our shift, we had to walk from the bus depot up to the Clock Tower in Coalville town centre to board our minibus. We must have looked really conspicuous in the early days, as people would stare as we walked by – we looked, perhaps, more like glamorous air hostesses about to fly-off on some exotic far-away adventure; rather than the dull reality of us having to drive a bus around the depressed locale of the old mining communities, all day long. As we settled into the job, we got less glamorous and more rough and ready, losing the ties and replacing the skirts with trousers.
There were four routes in all, which ran at regular intervals from the town centre to an outlying village (or vicinity): Thringstone, Agar Nook, Ibstock or Whitwick - and back again. There was a bus stop directly opposite my mum’s house, which was convenient if I ever wanted to use the loo, or grab a quick snack – depending on whether I had any passengers, of course! Each route took approximately 50 mins-1 hr to complete; depending on variables such as number of passengers, and amount of traffic on the roads. Weekends were busiest, when everyone went to town to do their shopping. It was rather chaotic at times...you might catch up with the bus in front, which was taking all the passengers and leaving you with none. There’s a saying about waiting around ages for a bus, and then three turn up at once – well, it’s true, and I can see why. In the beginning, there were radios in our cabs, so we could keep in touch with the depot and other drivers; however, it all got a bit silly as some drivers used and abused them for light entertainment, and in the end we were forbidden to use them, except for emergencies.
To cut a long story short: