Cats beat humans – so what’s new?

Today my body is refusing to play ball. Not literally, obviously, as I could still pick up and throw a ball should I choose to but it is saying a firm “No!” to all activity I tentatively suggest. It is the Young Women’s Group at Maggie’s today and I am part of it, despite my actual age and my feeling about 101 today. Getting out of bed is an intensely painful experience. It all hurts, every nook and cranny of my being aches and twinges. For some reason 2 toes on my left foot hurt when flexed even slightly, my ankles are painful, my left elbow hurts when just brushing the duvet cover and my back is a minefield of painful incendiaries, all waiting to explode individually at moments of their choosing. As for my thumbs, well, don’t even mention my thumbs. It’s a rebellion and I don’t know how to quell it except with liberal ingestion of analgesics and another stint on the sofa with my laptop and tv at the ready.

Yesterday was a better day. I ventured out to Shepherd’s Bush Market in search of fabric to use with my new sewing machine and then had lunch with my friend, Jane. Shepherd’s Bush Market is not somewhere I frequent normally but it is pouring with rain and it seems a good idea. I walk down the covered part of the market, enjoying the colourful displays of fruit and vegetables, wondering at the many varieties of yams on sale and searching out the fabric shops. An elderly Rastafarian man shuffles in front of me and calls out to a man the other side of the market. “Hey, Rasta man!” is the reply. “How you doing?” he calls back. “Yeah, good. You?” He doesn’t pause a beat. “Good. You wearing a condom?” he replies, shuffling off without waiting for a response. I guess this is some long-running joke between the two of them. I find a few shops who sell a multitude of fabrics. Every hue and weight of fabric, glossy, shiny and demure. The assistants are all male, Asian and overwhelmingly cheerful as they show me bolts of cloth. I make my choice and they make a great show of being able to rip the cloth in one piece. It is smiles all round.

I wend my way home on the bus being entertained by occasional shots of the back of my head on the bus security system. I actually like being able to see who is on the top deck (there may be someone I know) and who is sitting behind me as well as checking my hair is behaving itself because, yes, my hair is definitely on the return. It is darker and curlier than before with a lot more white in it. But I don’t care. It’s hair and it’s still soft but has interesting whorls and movement in it. At least, I think so.

Lunch with Jane at the Foresters is lovely. We have not met for a while and it’s good to talk openly and frankly with someone who understands immediately where I am coming from. We discuss our cancer from the outset and agree that for anyone without cancer, it might seem weird, morbid or that we are obsessed with it. Before I had cancer, I thought treatment was intense and unpleasant but that once it was done, that was it. People were cured or terminal but that end of treatment meant end of cancer. I was so wrong. It is all consuming but not in a negative way. It colours so many things I do or don’t do each day. My mind is on it so many minutes of each day because, although it has been removed (or so we hope), it is now a part of me. It’s entwined with who I am and although I’m going to live long and prosper, it’s as integral to me as any other major experience. Clearly, physically I am changed but to expect me not to be emotionally changed too would be crazy. We talk about all kinds of stuff but really it’s cancer all the way.

Later in the afternoon, when the rain lets up, I go into the garden to survey our work of the weekend. New raised beds were installed and my tomato and courgette seedlings were installed. Spring onion and radish seeds were also sown and a sheet of netting put over the top to protect them from Freya who would otherwise use them as a new alfresco toilet. Alas, I am sorry to see she found netting no barrier to her ablutions and has used the beds not once but twice. She has clearly balanced on the netting and left her mark. Sigh. She is some kind of supercat who sneers at my seed bed protection. Cat 1, Human 0. The same old story.

I tried to find a photograph of Freya to put here but can’t find one. She will have to remain a cat of mystery (but not international – that would be crazy talk).

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