Mr Mason and the Hitler moustache

Some time ago, Richard Herring, the comedian, thought about reclaiming the toothbrush moustache. Obviously heavily identified with Adolf Hitler, it was a tough challenge and he received quite a lot of stick for even raising the subject. As I watched his efforts some years ago, little did I realise I would have my own toothbrush moustache kerfuffle to deal with. I am resting in bed before I head off to the hospital to have my arm wrapped in an effort to reduce the lymphoedema. It’s a long process that requires doing on a daily basis. Luckily it also involves a very soothing massage as the nurse moves lymph fluid around my body. She mentions that Mr Mason could help with massaging my back for when she is not around and I mention it to him later but he looks dubious. A look he quite often adopts these days. As Mr Mason finishes his ablutions in the bathroom, he wanders back into the bedroom with a piece of toilet roll pressed tightly to his face. In the olden days, it was not uncommon to see men wandering around with small pieces of toilet paper stuck to their faces from where they had cut themselves shaving. There seemed to be no embarrassment or sense that this was not the most stylish way of looking. I have to say that I haven’t noticed toilet paper stuck to men’s faces for ages. Presumably the rise of modern razors with their millions of blades has put paid to the need but today, Mr Mason is on a time warp, big style.

“I have cut myself shaving” he says. “I appear to have given myself a Hitler moustache”. Once he removes the toilet paper, I can see that he has, indeed, given himself a Hitler moustache of sorts. He appears to have sliced a chunk out of his upper lip and the resulting dried blood looks very much like a toothbrush moustache. We are very fortunate Mr Mason does not have dark brown hair or he would have to stay indoors.

Mr Mason offers to give me a lift to the hospital so I can get my arm bandaged. In order to lure me in, he says “I have a bag of cat litter and a pack of toilet rolls in the boot” with a slightly mad look on his face. He is such a smooth talker. In spite of my better judgement, I accept and my journey goes smoothly. As I am early for my appointment, I go into Maggie’s first and catch up with some friends. Firstly I announce to my friend Tamsin that Tamsin will not be able to meet us this morning. She gives me an old-fashioned look (how I love that phrase) and I realise I have confused her with my friend Tatum. This is the first in a litany of frustrating dead-ends in my verbal dexterity. My mind is like a complicated maze at the moment and I continually run headlong into the hedges, bouncing off as I grab at words that elude me. I have quite a long conversation about going to Bakersfield in California some years ago and explaining we had gone to see XXX XXX who had a hotel and club there. Who is XXX XXX? they ask. I cannot tell them but I can tell them a lot about our visit, including that he had a young protegee who is current in country music. Who is that? they ask. Ah, that I cannot tell them that either. We have seen him play, I tell them. Both of them. And XXX XXX was elderly and forgetful but could play guitar although his singing voice had deserted him. He died a little while after we saw him although the two things are unconnected. This is despite the fact I told Master Mason that XXX XXX only died after he saw him and that the two things were undoubtedly connected, he being possibly on a silent rampage, killing elderly musicians. Some of the Village People  died after he saw them at the age of 5. I am saddened to say that his very first gig was to see the Village People (who were great) and Gary Glitter who has since been exposed as a paedophile. Gary Glitter did not perform as he injured his back, probably by falling off his platform shoes or so we posited. This early exposure to entertainment and very dubious individuals does not seem to have affected him unduly although he would tell you he needs counselling, should you ask him.

In the end I save the day by shouting out “Buck Owens!” for it is indeed he who is XXX XXX. My memory is definitely getting worse. Having expected improvement, I am rather depressed by its decline and don’t know how I can rescue it. Chemotherapy has torn a large, ragged hole and is holding my memories hostage. If anyone sees them, please let me know.

Things that aren’t there

I am itchy. I am itchy in a place that no longer exists. I can read all the reasons why it happens and be excited about nerves re-knitting and all that but the problem still remains. I have an itch which I cannot scratch and no-one else can scratch it for me. It actually feels itchy a few centimetres from my body which obviously doesn’t make sense to anyone except me. I know where the itch is in mid-air and I can scratch in mid-air but it still doesn’t do the trick. Scratching real bits of me doesn’t help, either. I am stuck with a phantom itch for the time being and bloody annoying it is, too.

I have also lost my glasses. Not the normal ones I wear everyday but the ones that darken in sunlight. OK, it’s not been sunny here for ages but they have still walked and I want them back. The impotence of such loss is amazing. I look and look but still can’t find them. I can picture the case they are in, picture the glasses but it still doesn’t help in my hunt. I check every handbag I have, which takes quite some time. I even check bags I haven’t used for ages, knowing I wore the glasses more recently. I pull things out from the side of the sofa. I picture the case on top of the fireplace where they lived until I thought they should be put somewhere better.

It’s chemo brain again. I used to have a great memory and could remember details and stuff that was in my diary for weeks at a time. Now I can’t remember what I did 10 minutes ago. I saw someone the other day who greeted me warmly, asking how I was and saying they hadn’t seen me for a while. I smiled and nodded, thinking ‘Who is this person?’ He did look a bit familiar but I couldn’t remember anything about his medical history (which is kind of de rigeur in the cancer field – it seems rude not to know which cancer someone has got and what stage they are at). He was stage 4 which is terminal and I should have remembered him because he was telling me (again) that he had felt absolutely no symptoms and still doesn’t feel ill. And, of course, with a rotten diagnosis like that he is quite young. Sometimes it’s OK to say ‘I don’t remember’ and blame it on chemo brain but at other times it feels callous and cruel not to remember details like his. Sigh. Yet another side-effect of the treatment. Studies are being undertaken to find out how long this side-effect lasts and on which drug it is worst. I keep hoping I’ll recover and stop forgetting things. At least I remembered the story to tell you.

Back to scratching and hunting the glasses.