The 70p man

Having had a relaxing weekend, real life is waiting just around the corner like a wet kipper slapped round the face, to jolt me back on my toddler reins. Toddler reins in my attempt to get back to ‘normal’, whatever that is. I have been through my diary like a blitzkreig, cancelling, crossing out and re-arranging dates. If you have made the final cut, you’re doing really well. Even pleasurable and fun events seem too weighty, too burdensome. But something has to stay in the diary so I knock out the slightly less entertaining and keep the better gigs. Everything and anything can bring about a state of panic at the moment, mostly self-induced by being far too optimistic about how much I can take on. At good moments, and it does change moment by moment, I feel I can take on a whole host of challenges. At other times, these fill me with a creeping dread.

I am guessing some people may feel offended by my postponing, cancelling, re-arranging or else by my complaints that I have too much in my diary. Well, who put it there? Yes, I hold my hands up. It was me, not thinking clearly when I added you to my diary. It does not mean I love you any less but just that my head can’t hold enough and my body is too tired. There is a mental, physical and emotional exhaustion that goes with the aftermath of cancer treatment. Beating myself up does no good but does come automatically, somehow.

Leaving Maggie’s after a great singing session this afternoon, I sat on a wall reading and waiting for my lift. A man came stumbling out of the A&E department, shouting loudly and waving his arms about. He caught my eye. “Excuse me, excuse me!” he called as he came crashing towards me. He explained his English was not good and then proceeded to tell me his brother had been taken to hospital in an ambulance but that he wasn’t at this hospital. “He’s not here!” he yelled. “Where is my brother?” He didn’t appear to be asking a rhetorical question and I didn’t know what to answer without getting into a long involved conversation. At this point my lift arrived. I told him I had to go. He asked me for a cigarette but I explained that I didn’t smoke. For a moment he looked at the ground, slumping his shoulders in a defeated way. “Can I have 70p?” he asked. It was such a specific amount I almost gave it to him. What can you do with 70p? You can’t get on a bus with 70p and I doubt you could buy much more than a chocolate bar. Maybe that was what he wanted – a consoling bar of chocolate. I hope he found his brother.

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