when i was diagnosed with cancer I knew I didn’t want chemo and I decided to rationalise with this errant part of my body. I felt that he had made a mistake and that a good talk would sort him out.

Clearly, talking to Tubby was not enough, cancer requires more!Yet I am still glad that I didn’t go for chemo. Also the first oncologist told me that cure was out of the question & with no treatment I should be dead in seven months. I was not, & though some days I feel as if i am well on the way to the grim reaper, other days I feel perky. A year ago I was on a cruise eating my head off blissfully & have had a few years with no symptoms at all. Also I had that joyful smug feeling too.The do-it-yourself jubilation

Now, the worst symptom is an almost total loss of voice. Never one who was backward in coming forward I rage at the blank faces. Can’t take part in political discussion. cannot shout the odds I burble & growl, & friends make the effort & we fail. Other lovely symptoms are one leg that  has managed to triple its size overnight & the other which has shrunk to  a mere shadow of herself with a tendency  to give way at random. thus I am the proud  owner ( temporarily ) of 2 Zimmer walkers, one wheeled Zimmer & a multitude of walking sticks & four visits a day from carers of varied quality & entertainment value I realise that I am fortunate to be cosseted in this manner & to have mates who form MO’s Speakeasy (?) ironic friends are essential. Also that I can afford heating & food.And have had a lot of kindness & my female love shared a bed in hospital with me & they gave her breakfast! is this a first ?(Deeply uncomfortable!)

I have no plans to give up this mortal coil any time soon but  have a dreadful feeling that the decision will not be mine,& though i have had a long & eventful life I am not keen to go just yet – I badly want to  know what happens next.

And today, having got up at 3.30 to write this & seen the sky change from sludge grey to an exquisite blue & the glorious sunshine on the orange bricks spent some time with my nice funny nurse I feel good for another gallop round the block – metaphorically of course, so dying is on hold for the moment.

Off to my facebook friends who have tolerated my squawks of outrage & joy & have helped me by just blathering. thanks!

As for death? Who knows?

I still talk to Tubby – one of the few who understand me.





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I swear a lot. I can control this on occasion – I used to say ‘in the presence of old ladies’ but now that I am an old lady …& get angrier. I forget. There are lots of tests around that ‘prove’ that people who swear can bear to keep their hands in icy water far longer if they swear while doing it. But why anybody should do this escapes me & I am not sure it proves anything at all.

Swearing is diminished when overused, the words lose their power & become just another word & trite. Some groups, often new users or people who think it rather clever, overuse the delicious words. Some incorporate the duller of the words into their usual speech & others do this to the extent that they are hardly shocking at all. I know that when I first discovered the joys of swearing, in books mostly as nobody in my family used anything beyond  ‘darn it’ or other puny words that slipped from a mouth with virtually no impact at all. I was all for impact, an attention-seeker who longed to shock. I liked the sound of the words too. Once, when I first heard the words mother- lover I was impressed at the resonance, the balance, the SOUND. The fact that one could swap the order of the curses with no detriment. It was outside a club where a group of GIs were shooting craps. I asked them to repeat the phrase; they did so reluctantly, I was enchanted. Poetry!

I have often been compelled to explain that the two acts involved in this particular curse are very unlikely to be realised in fact, I tell them to listen to the sound & enjoy it. Rarely, I meet somebody who does .I guess I am a radical among swearers. A curse snob. I had the joy of living with somebody from Belfast for many years, he used the F word excessively & I am afraid I picked up this bad habit, I try to control it but it slithers out anyway on occasion, & is more than compensated for by the gorgeous accent & wonderful, unique sense of humour. But it offends the less brave among us; I hesitate to say the brainwashed.

Another group who have a nice way with swear words are West Indians who have a vast litany of abusive words for the female genitalia, for which they also show a great enthusiasm. I have not yet figured this one out but dominos is improved I think by the sound effects. Another group who use words to great effect & improve the breadth of our culture, thanks!

So I conclude that swearing brings great sounds to the language, gives it essence & colour, is hardly likely to hurt anybody & though it will very possibly never be taught in our limited education system, it should be treated with respect.

And I am sorry to have lost friends through mere (powerful) words. Come back, I forgive you.


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I am no lover of housework, so my fondness for washing up is odd. I remember washing horrible greasy dishes after lunch on Sunday with my brother – I hated it then. Sunday was a bad day all round. Full of rules &  dreary characters from the family who would be taken on dire walks in Oxlea or Jack woods. We loved the woods when let loose. My family didn’t drink & I would yearn to be left outside a pub with crisps & Tizer. No chance. We would march with obnoxious cousins & odious uncles for several hours talking about cars or decorating the house, or the garden & me already immersed in Zola & high end politics, or so I thought. I sound worse than the family. And what has this to do with washing up? Very little. I find washing up deeply satisfying. It has to be done right of course – glasses, cutlery, nice hot soapy water, absolutely no greasy crocks in the water until near the end then the pots. OK?

I do wonder how this errant love came about – I have a good friend who is convinced he is the best washer up in the world – he is not, I am! Before I start I feel quite ill at the sight of chaos – yet I quite like a bit of chaos in my life, not in the kitchen sink though. When I chose to live in a communal house – age 40 I came unstuck, a little rashly I announced I quite liked washing up, after several days I rebelled, took industrial action & then limited myself to the own cup only method.

Since I have lived alone I have discovered this new joy. I am dreadfully afraid that I may realise that this is the only thing I do rightly! But leaving that thought aside, even the thought of hot soapy water with glasses gurgling to the bottom, coming out without a speck on them is joyful, in fact, if I have a stressful day line up I save the washing up to morning for the therapy of it. Pathetic? But cheaper then counselling, faster than meditation, more available & less messy than sex!

So I will sign off now – my cleaner comes today & I don’t want her using the wrong pot cleaner!


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I always thought that this demonization of cancer was silly. I see it as part of my body that is ill. I don’t feel that it has ill intent toward me personally. A part of me that has hit a fault line & though, when I was diagnosed in 2014 they said that it was inoperable & that I had seven months to live if I had no treatment, I didn’t believe them I  began to talking to my tumour, who I named Tubby. I reasoned with him that if I died he would too, a sensible approach I felt.

I have never gone along with the idea that cancer is an evil that has taken over from Black Death. I feel that our modern lifestyle, our pollution – whether self-initiated as my lung cancer is or inflicted by outside influences has much to answer for. I also believe that as cancer is the milk cow of the pharmaceutical companies they are in no hurry to come up with a cure. I am sure that the doctors working in the cancer area are sincere but give the ‘Big pharma’ conspiracy theory credence too.

Mainly though, I believe that our bodies our capable of change, I believe that they respond to our attitude & that going into despond & panic is a mistake. When the doctor told me that I had incurable cancer I responded like that ancient hippy I am with ‘A bummer eh?’  partly a bit of bravado, but I decided that this was my attitude & no need to book the MOT for my old Polo for longer than six months then; & alongside this the belief that I can live with  this. I was already booked to go to France for a few days & I booked a train journey to Budapest with a friend. Be positive was my watchword. The cancer remained stable & once actually shrank & I was delighted with Tubby, we rejoiced in our success.

Of course there were & are moments of horror at the thought of giving up on life, I might be eighty years old & had a rather jolly life until recently but I do love life & would like a few more years of it. I have wasted a good deal of time, though no time is really wasted if it is lived. Until recently I spent weekends in London which was fun. Now I am limited to home & walks round the block with my embarrassing walker, worse than my grisly walking stick. I have grown weak & feeble & try to do my exercises that conflict with a long term hip problem. Probably an age thing, but I am in age denial mode – perchance I should accept my infirmities as a fact & live with them. Instead I write. Which gives me joy & makes people laugh. I also watch a lot!

The area I live in changes all the time & brings new people to observe & wonder at. The area is very much alive with some of the most good looking children & women anywhere.  I peer like the nosey old creature that I am. There are fascinating new customs too, some revolting so I can utilise my disgust stringently then see the refreshing stuff anew I grew up in a leafy suburb & never forgot the dullness, the competitive gardens & the boredom.

So? What is the state of play now? I am due for an oncology check-up this month & as is usual a certain trepidation enters Tubby’s & my life, a kind of low down tremble. Though we have decided that death will be a new adventure, we hope! We shall not go gently though, I think we need a fanfare to see us out!

Now, I have quite suddenly sprouted a new lump on my neck to liven up my life. Is it? Isn’t it? Should I go into panic mode? Then I get a call from a funeral director do I want to talk about a funeral plan! I swear at the woman with her cooing voice ‘Do I F as like’ & collapse into laughter the ironies of life eh? Then a new friend came round to walk with me & cheered me up & as I gobbled the cakes she brought I thought I must get more – result I decided to go it alone, I have this Zimmer with wheels which I find hideously embarrassing, I am vain, still worried about street cred at 80! In denial of age stereotypes & determined not to change. All nonsense but it has worked for me. This walk was a treat, nonstop smiles & 2 offers of cups of tea, the shop were delighted to see me, we talked about Zit, my dog, who waited for several hours outside the shop when I forgot him. This small walk has made me realise I have freedom & next I intend to drive again.

I am happy for the most part & have begun to write again seriously which is lovely; I have had excellent support from my doctor, a brilliant nurse & a dozen or so carers who come to ‘help’ me shower. They are a nixed crew but all fascinating in their variety. I feel very lucky & if & when my luck runs out? It has been interesting & has brought me new insights. I expect to write more of these blogs & would be very glad of any comments.

My way may not be yours, we find our own ways & being ancient is an advantage in this case & GOD KNOWS this is rare. At least I have had a good innings


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alright darling


I bought a mattress over the weekend. It involved a few telephone calls – mainly because I had thought there were only one or two sizes of double beds. I was wrong. ‘There’s a lot of different of sizes darling.’ A pleasant gruff voice came over the line. We measured the bed – a futon. We squabbled over the tape measure, as you do, (or we do anyway) and realised we had a ‘continental’ size bed.   I got back to Mr gruff and told him the size. All right darling, I ‘ll get it to you by four o’clock.’ ‘Oh thanks darling’ I said, ‘that’s brilliant.’ The delivery man continued the affectionate exchanges and didn’t even give me time to bung him a tip for lugging it up four flights of stairs he was smiley and charming, not what I expected at all, a nice surprise.

Today, before 10 o’clock I was greeted and addressed as ‘hen’. My lovely one and sweetheart by total strangers. All fairly exuberantly and with a good deal of matiness. In the first instance I asked the guy whereabouts in Wales he came from, which got a laugh, thank god. I once quipped something similar to a guy from South Africa who took my hints of antipodean ancestry well amiss.. I can’t resist a one liner.

Last night in the chippy the governor addressed me as darling and I reciprocated. He gave me a glass of wine. I also find that I have a tendency to mirror accents which is sometimes seen as piss taking, it is not, I am not sure what it is and suspect it may be some kind of grovelling attempt to fit in, anyway it doesn’t work but I persist.

I guess it’s in the intention because in hospital I can get quite starchy if people call me dearie or my love, I smell patronage. In the eighties I would cheerfully challenge any man who had the temerity to use terms of intimacy, now, I find myself returning the compliment – if that’s what it is. This way is certainly more peaceful.

I often get invited by ciderheads in the park to have a drink and have been known to have strangers come up to me in boozers and ask me where they can score, so I reckon I must have one of those faces – approachable? Deviant? Take your pick. In foreign towns I find the roughest cafes or bars by instinct and I seem to fit in. A gift I think. I seldom get challenged and am mostly ignored after my initial entrance, though strangers often offer me fags,  I watch points and people, it is astounding what you can pick up without being able to understand a word. The hierarchies seem similar in most cultures and there is always a top dog, often inexplicably. In a Lisbon café the chief honcho  among a group of old guys was a man with one tooth, and memories of  Aden during the war, we got along famously with him feeding me port and me making the company roll ups.  The conversation was distinctly limited but  friendly until my companion insisted we went to look at ceramics.

I prefer to look at people any day they fascinate me. And now  that I am not seen as potential conquest I  can look to my hearts content..

All this comes up because of the sexual harassment furore at the moment.

I remember being mortified when three young guys walking past said: ‘Nice tits for her age!’ Never entirely certain which bit annoyed me more but I felt a flush that saturated my face & neck, still glowing when I got home.

I worked at Fords factory in 1979 in the canteen where sexism ruled. I took a trolley with tea to the workshops & it was rampant. I noted though, that a perfectly good conversation was possible until more than two men were assembled. We could be having a chat about the scandalous price of toys or the weather, but after more than two were assembled the chat would slump into ‘You got hairy legs darling that mean you’re sexy?’ Followed by sniggers from most of the guys. My hairy legs were a feminist gesture & I

regularly took  Spare Rib which I would leave in the cloakroom for the perusal of my fellow workers – such arrogance! They did not respond.

Another part of my duties involved clearing tables while the men lurked lusted & lunged from their tables. On one occasion a man told my fellow worker that she was ‘Dickable’ I protested & she said she didn’t mind. I spent a lot of energy & time there being angry! We tormented the young boy who worked with us with ritual debaggings as a team while I stood po faced & appalled,

I got a job on a ferry after that to indescribably filth from the male kitchen staff. All laughed off by the females.

So what do I feel about male harassment of women & men? I found it offensive then & I do so now. It diminishes a person & has become a habit so ingrained that it should be squashed out of our lives completely.

I am still a feminist & if I choose to address people as darling that’s fine but if anybody objects that’s OK too. We get to assert our preferences.

Likewise if any woman cares to whack an offending male in the kisser, GREAT!

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