Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Driving miss, daily....

Through thin mist, the turbine lazily spins in syncopation with the hum of early morning traffic ; whilst at its feet a willow brushes the lake with graceful,overhung branches, to create a curtain for coots to skim through on their way to dabble in the shallows for a tasty morsel or two.
The occasional duck, awkward in flight, alights feet first with a splash; sending ripples scurrying over the stillness of  water unruffled by Spring breezes......
... and I, in my car, gridlocked, mesmerised by the endless stretch of brake lights, amidst the solitary souls mouthing words to unheard melodies; find a moment of meditation before the rush of the day begins.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Back to the start

My surgeon recently asked me to write a piece about my diagnosis and treatment for his website. Of course I agreed; he is a lovely man, and the skilful way in which he put me back together again is something for which I will always be truly grateful.

I know that the piece I write will be straightforward, warm and full of praise for the team who worked so hard to rebuild me. It will, however be only a small part of my history; edited and homogenised to remove the turmoil of the true narrative; to soothe the reader, and in doing so reassure them that, in the end, everything will be okay.

The reality is more stark.......

I felt it in the shower, a lump, hard and unyielding beneath my fingers; in stark contrast to the soft surrounding flesh. I ignored it at first, knowing that I was soon to go for my annual scan; I put it to the back of my mind, and carried on regardless.... but the lump remained, a solid nugget under probing fingertips.

At the clinic I smiled through the scans, the biopsies; willing this to be a cyst, a mistake, a figment of a hypochondriac's imagination......and then the nurse walked into the room with the specialist, and at that instant I knew.

There is that sudden moment of clarity when you hear what is to be said before a single word is uttered. The look between specialist and nurse confirmed what in truth I had known all along.

I went into preservation mode, poker faced; discussing the practicalities of the surgery to follow.  Lumpectomy or mastectomy?One breast or two? 'Like ordering tea at a posh cafe,' I remember thinking in a wry moment of black humour.

 Words flew over and around me, I watched hands  sketching quick drawn diagrams, weighed up the pros and cons. The specialist was kind, attentive; giving me time to ask questions, double checking I had understood the mechanics of the procedure. I smiled, I nodded, whilst all the time my unspoken thoughts were spinning into free fall.

On the drive back from the hospital reality hit, as it surely must. I pulled my car over to the hard shoulder and howled, then, mindful I was heading to work, wiped my eyes, gave myself a stern talking to and found my poker face once more.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Along the riverbank


Mechanical giants stand motionless under soft skies, as the tide slowly sinks to mid stream. 
Seagulls gather to stare at the retreating water, looking for titbits in the river mud.

From the barrier wall, tormented souls glare at unassuming passers by;
silently screaming their pain to anyone who will pause and drink in their despair.

The devil is in the detail, overwritten with with the thoughtless scribbles
of those who leave their tags as a dog leaves scent trails..

Whilst round the the river's bend an iron fist reaches out 
to be noticed, remarked upon, remembered.

Sulphur smoke from twisted chimneys punctuates the darkening sky

as down stream, dock lights guide the weary towards safe harbour, 
and the setting sun finally sinks behind the industrial heartland.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Spring Cleaning

The Spring sunshine has arrived, banishing shivering still air, warming rooms and breathing a little tenderness back into our cold abandoned home. Motes of dust dancing in the sunbeams have spurred me on to remove ancient cobwebs laiden with the long dead corpses of a spider's supper,in an attempt to restore order where chaos still reigns.

Now is the time for painting; balancing precariously on stepladders as the slow, sucking pull of a roller on plaster transforms tired walls; and the scent of fresh paint belies the lack of proper cleaning as we wait for services to be restored.

In the dark depths of the burnt out garage below our feet, wires bereft of power have been stripped from charred walls; tangling like cold spaghetti abandoned on the driveway. A car, hardly recognisable as the BMW it once was, has been dragged from the pit; leaving a trail of oil, ash and burnt rubber in its wake, before being unceremoniously lifted on the back of a lorry and hauled away to the scrap heap.
Ceiling boards, melted piping and all manner of now unrecognisable objects have been added to the overflowing skip.
Slowly but surely the clean up has begun....

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Down by the riverside...

Wrapped up, zipped up, defying the damp air, we strolled along the windswept river; past  slowly decaying structures of wood and metal.
Rungless ladders emerged through rippled river mud; barely clinging to the rotted pillars that once held them aloft, sighing with defeat at the marches of tide and time.

A shopping trolley; abandoned, seaweed strewn, forlornly faced the ebbing tide;as from aloft seagulls wheeled in the wind, shrieking their mournful cries to anyone who would listen.
 Past walls tagged with the scribbles of angry youth;
 slow moving snails meandered through puddles 
left from the downpours of the night; oblivious to the footfall of the morning joggers, 
and our boot shod feet.

Through caged in pathways, litter strewn, smelling of dog dirt and defeat; we looked out through the bars at curved pipes snaking below creaking walkways, carrying who knows what to goodness knows where .... and on to the holds of quiet rusting ships anchored mid stream.
At last we turned for home, over metal ringed steps and on down the asphalt paths  leading back to where we began. Stopping just once to rescue a pair of snails perilously close to becoming a smeared mess beneath a jogger's shoe and carefully placing them on a wall, to live another day. 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

.....and the world spins madly on

Since the fire, with the precision of a military campaign;life has become a series of  logistical challenges to be catagorised, organised and timetabled.
We move from flat,to work, to house, to flat; in the slow dance of necessity; collecting clothes, sorting laundry and searching for those things you never realise are vital, until of course you need them.
I have become the packing maven; shaking, folding and smoothing garments to swell the bags with weekday working wardrobes; co ordinating mix and match outfits that stay crease free, stress free, and take the effort out of 6am dressing.
Our garden is in Spring bloom, and our weekend washing billows upon the line; but with no water, power or sanitation, it is a mere veneer of the suburban living we once knew. To spend time at the house, cats on laps, quilts wrapped tight against the bitter cold; necessity forces preplanned 'comfort breaks' or the decision to slowly dehydrate.
The toads in their tank hum in the darkness, unperturbed by absence of warmth and light, whilst the cats soft footed, have claimed squatters rights on empty beds. There is an air of sudden abandonment which is sensed as soon as key turns in lock; bringing a sadness to a home that  has become a cold  harbour.