Lifting the pea-souper

There have been alarming nocturnal activities at Mason Towers. My week, as you may know, has not been the best. Life goes badly awry and I really feel as though I am having something like a breakdown. Nothing makes sense in my head and I sleep, sleep and then sleep some more. Then I am unable to sleep. My brain ceases to function properly. I can’t speak, I can’t think, I can’t reason and I don’t know how I feel. It’s the old anniversary reaction coming back to bite me in the backside. It’s quite hard to describe. I don’t consciously think about the day of diagnosis, about having cancer, the treatment, the fear. I am aware of it and, obviously, live with the practical effects of having cancer on a daily basis but I don’t submerge myself in the pit of thick, viscous black terror which coated everything 2 years ago. It is most strange. The way the mind works is a total mystery. The feelings I might have expected to experience don’t emerge and dark, black, ultra noir (I ran out of words to say black) sensations  make themselves known instead.  I don’t feel depressed, I just am. I allow myself to slide around in a dark sea of nothingness until, quite suddenly, I feel better. Two years since I received the frightening diagnosis of a rare, aggressive form of breast cancer and the sun shines, the sky is blue and I feel lighter, fresher and can breathe again.

So, the sun shines bright and the sky is blue. Yahoo! Mr Mason gets up and makes a Worrying Discovery. He comes upstairs with the customary cup of coffee and tells me that we are lucky to still have Dog. On drawing back the sitting room curtains, he discovers the glass in the window is cracked. Dog hates foxes. This is as plain as day is day and night is night. Foxes are the bain of his life. They taunt him, they come by especially so they can give him the finger and make him gnash his impressive teeth. More specifically, they drop by so they can shit in his front garden and saunter off without so much as a by-your-leave. On this particular night, a fox came along and did exactly that – a circus-type defacation which meant the fox had to balance delicately on the edge of our plastics recycling bag in order to deliver his piece de la resistance. Was he a French fox? I hear you asking yourselves. I doubt it. I imagine Monsieur Renard is too busy driving French people demented to worry about sending reinforcements over here. An English fox on English soil (well, plastics recycling bag) and it sends Dog over the top. He hurls himself at the glass and it cracks. It is cracked so badly we dare not leave it and immediately phone a glazier to have it replaced. That will be £170 thank you.

The result is that Dog may not sleep downstairs any more. He was lucky not to have cut himself or inflicted a serious injury on his delicate flesh and we also do not wish to be shelling out £170 on a regular basis so we decide to move his bed. Dog’s bed has always been in the bay window in the sitting room at the front of the house. He is cosy there and his bed is next to his toy basket from which he can select monkey, rabbit or Phony Tony, a cheap, poundshop effort on parodying Tony Blair when he was in office. Dog doe snot have a political bone in his body but he does love Phony Tony. Dog also houses a number of cat toys in his basket and these he likes to chew thoughtfully from time to time.

Come bedtime, we have to move Dog’s bed upstairs into our room. He occupies the same space in the bay but will not be able to go into the sitting room and throw himself at the the window as the sitting room door will be shut. He is confused. This is a normal state of affairs with Dog but Mr Mason takes Dog’s bed up to our bedroom and then tries to herd him upstairs. Dog looks bewildered. Am I to sleep upstairs? Why? Do you really mean it? Why are you moving my bed? Where is my duvet? If I go upstairs will you then tell me off? Is this a trick? Little thoughts cross his brain and he then decides he will go with it and go upstairs. Once he sees his bed is in the bay he jumps in with a silent Woo Hoo! Being allowed to sleep in the same room as the rest of the pack is Good News Indeed. The benefit from our perspective is that he does not hurl himself at the window. The downside is the flatulence. I wake in the night and enquire of Mr Mason whether it is him or Dog. He is not really sure and has also been woken by the smell so, on balance, we decide it is Dog. Once, when Dog was a mere puppy, Mr Mason gave him left-over sprouts. It was a very bad mistake and one which has never been repeated though is still talked about, so bad was the resulting aroma. Apparently, according to a Facebook group on the subject of Salukis, they are known to be terrifically flatulent. Apparently Bonio make a charcoal biscuit especially for them in an attempt to mitigate the horrendous smell.

So our week ends with sunshine, blue skies and a terrific paddling session. Last week we managed 10km. This week, with fewer crew and a paddling into a headwind we managed just over 8km which is excellent. Several people have invested in bum cushions (called something less descriptive on the website) to ward off the terrible blisters some crew members have suffered. Some people have recommended soaking our backsides in vinegar and others have suggested a specific kind of sticking plaster which some crew members seem rather keen to stick on other crew members. It is all getting out of hand so we decide on bum cushions. And I have brought the tone down yet again. I do apologise but am afraid the situation is rather outside my control.

It does put me in mind of a lovely Mervyn Peake poem which I will leave you with.

My Uncle Paul of Pimlico
Has seven cats as white as snow,
Who sit at his enormous feet
And watch him, as a special treat,
Play the piano up side-down,
In his delightful dressing-gown;
The firelight leaps, the parlour glows,
And while the music ebbs and flows
They smile (while purring the refrains)
At little thoughts that cross their brains.

 

The bone graveyard

I am struggling. Is it OK to admit that? I’m finding it tough? Letting the android/cyborg/superhero mask slip a little is both scary and a relief. Having a chest infection has sent me back to the sofa to watch trash on tv and play Candycrush (thanks to SR for leading me down that Primrose path :-)) It’s also given me huge anxiety about all the things I’m not doing and… oh, it’s the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ making a re-appearance. I should be coping better. I ought to be doing more around the house. Tears spring from nowhere, apparently unprovoked, leaving me breathless and sobbing. What’s it all about?

As usual, the answer is bloody cancer. How dare it rear its ugly, monstrous head at a point when I think I’m getting back onto my feet? Cancer isn’t just the tumour, the disease at cellular level, the physical stuff. It’s also so much about the emotional stuff, the unprocessed, the primeval fear, I guess. To be faced with the possibility of dying is a real shock and it takes its time to work through the system, the system being taken up with breathing, walking, talking, sleeping (sometimes) and just getting on with the business of staying alive. Once the imminent threat is past there is time to think ‘What the hell was that?’

It feels so much better to admit I can’t do it all and that some days I feel like Marge Simpson, sent demented by her family and coming to a halt crossways on a bridge. When the police approach the car, she turns and does a great snarly roar at them which has them backing off fast. So yeah, back off, life! Give me a break and give me some space.

I still don’t want to sit and wallow, though, to allow the bastards to grind me down so I prescribed some light activity to help. Dog makes a lot of smeary mess on the window in anticipation, fear, delight, anger, concern and sheer curiosity so I decided to tackle those as I can see them from my sofa retreat. This means moving Dog’s bed and what a treasure trove I found underneath it. A shoe, many unfinished bone projects (he is currently working on a joint from a leg of mutton but this is quite a long term project), stolen cat toys, treats stored for another day – a cornucopia of doggy delights. He came back from his run to find his bed moved and his stash revealed. He was very brave as we removed the worst offenders, reunited the cats with their toys and the shoe with its partner, threw away the googly eyes he loves to remove from toys and hoovered beneath, no doubt ruining the aroma he has been carefully tending for weeks.

He takes life in his (very long) stride and has simply flopped to the floor to lie in the sun. Maybe I should take a leaf out of his book.

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