Mr Mason’s mild-mannered rampage

Following the breakdown of Mr Mason’s coffee machine, I fear he has turned into something of a monster. Having slaved over our tax returns, he is despatched to the bank so he can pay a cheque in for me. I do hate it when people pay by cheque – is it designed to stop me cashing it? They have not factored in Mr Mason’s tenacious spirit but I digress (my specialty). He is also going to the bank to pay his tax bill. When he returns, he presents me with a stamped and authorised paying-in slip which is unusual as I use the diy drop system. Did you queue? I ask. “Yes” he says, with an impish look on his face. It’s quicker to use the drop box, I say. “Yes, but it was all kicking off in the bank so I waited to see what would happen.” Clearly Mr Mason needs to get out more, or less, depending on your perspective. He explains that the bank was crowded with Polish builders, all trying to pay their money in or tax bills, he wasn’t sure. There were only 3 staff in the bank and they were arguing amongst themselves having been shipped in from other banks when the local staff all went off sick. The builders were shouting about the amount of time they were having to wait and the staff were complaining about the local staff. One of the staff was just going on her lunch break, one was serving customers and the other said she couldn’t help because she was an Advisor and not trained to take money. She apparently sat in full view of everyone doing absolutely nothing which can’t made the situation easier. What an awful situation, I say. “Yes,” says Mr Mason. What did you do? I ask. “I egged them on!”he says. “I sympathised quietly with the builders about how terrible the staff were and then when I got to the desk I sympathised with the bank staff about how awful the builders were.” I guess this is what happens when your coffee machine breaks down.

Tuesday finds me on a train to Leeds for a meeting at the Thackray Medical Museum but the train isn’t going anywhere fast. Apparently a car has hit a railway bridge (I initially typed ‘cat’ which would make the story so much better) near St Neots and this means trains from London to Leeds and beyond are delayed and cancelled. A woman nearby appears to be having a restrained and quite polite nervous breakdown. She makes phone call after phone call telling various people she is sick of someone’s behaviour and is going to put a stop to it. I gather she is in the tv business and that they have someone appearing on The One Show (known in our house as Celebrity Lawnmowers ever since Miss Mason, on watching the first ever show, swore this was a real segment of the show). She is called Clare (without the ‘i’) and the group of people she represents are all texting each other and causing lots of upset and, of course, she is sick of it. From her conversation, I put 2 and 2 together and deduce she is involved with the programme called Big Ballet where heavier people are allowed to dance ballet under the tutelage of Wayne Sleep. Now I want to know the names of the dancers to see who the source of all the rumpus is. I wouldn’t want to cross Clare, though. As we are de-trained (which I believe is a real word) at Doncaster into freezing wind and rain I am able to get a glimpse of Clare and she looks quite fearsome as well as having poor dress sense. Or maybe she got dressed in the dark. Clearly Mr Mason’s mean streak is catching…

But before you cheer or boo us, karma is already catching up in the form of a leak in the roof, right above Master Mason’s bed. Cancer and its treatment, having robbed me of so many brain cells, meant that for a few days we put a bucket on Master Mason’s bed and lay at night fretting and listening to the insistent drip, drip, drip that has been the soundtrack to the awful weather. Only when we were getting a man in to look at and assess the damage did Mr Mason think to put a bucket in the attic. Brainwave! But then I am so easily pleased.

The one where my hat blows off

Oh, blast karma and all its repercussions. Having been very bad last week, I make amends by Doing Good Things but it doesn’t seem to help. My good deed is to rescue someone’s phone as it lies forlornly in the middle of the road. Luckily it hasn’t been squashed and I slip it into my pocket with the intention of going through its contacts in order to locate the owner. When I get home I find that it is sensibly password protected which means I will have to take it to the police station in the morning. Sometime in the afternoon, the lost phone rings and I find I am speaking to its owner. She agrees to come to the house the following day to collect it. In the evening, we go to meet friends at a local Indian restaurant. We used to throw lavish dinners for friends on the Saturday before Christmas with every course specially sourced, from the smoked salmon at the beginning to the specialist chocolates at the end. Sometimes they were vegetarian extravaganzas, sometimes they were carnivorous feasts and sometimes it was a bit of both. After last year’s trials, we did not throw a dinner as I was just getting over my final chemotherapy treatment. This year we decide to go out with friends and very lovely it is, too. The restaurant is bustling and we receive very good service and excellent food amongst some of our most beloved friends. The waiter even gives us a Christmas card each and no-one says Bah Humbug!

On Sunday, the lady of the phone comes to the door and I hand it over with a smile while she is extremely grateful and insists on giving me chocolates to say thanks. I am just glad to reunite them as I know if I lost my phone, I would feel bereft as it contains so much information. Having done A Good Thing, I am hopeful that karmic balance will have been restored, but no. The parcel we sent to Miss Mason in Thailand has not arrived. Mr Mason calls the Post Office who are tracking it internationally and to whom he has paid an extravagant amount. I am Skyping with Miss Mason when I hear him swear loudly and slam the phone down. It appears our parcel has been sitting in Belfast for the last week, neither going to Bangkok nor coming back to London. I now have to go and get a special form. We are not sure whether we will get the parcel back or whether we have to claim insurance for its contents and start all over again. This is very bad news as we know it is already difficult to have Christmas in a hot country while the rest of the family sits by the fire opening Christmas presents. I gear myself to go to the Post Office and get the said form. To quote, the weather outside is frightful. It rains hard and the wind blows so that it whistles through the front door but I have to go out. I get soaked and the wind blows so hard it blows my hat off. Luckily I catch it before it blows away. At this point, Miss Mason will be sorry as she thinks the said rain hat makes me look mad but I am glad I caught it.

At what point will Karma be satisfied? How many more bad things will happen before things become equal again? I shall obviously have to be on my very best behaviour rather than my usual Minnie the Minx persona as my friend Ms Marsden calls it. With this in mind, here is a festive photo to warm your hearts.


Dog is rather unhappy with the placing of the tree as in order to put it in the bay, we have to move his bed a few inches to the left which is not good, according to Dog rules. It does allow him, however, to take full advantage of the fire when it is lit.


Leaving you with that image, I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas, no matter which corner of the globe you find yourselves in and I look forward to sharing more exploits with you in the new year.

The one where Karma gets me

Today I go for a meeting at the Health Research Authority to look at ethics in health research with a group of other patients/people/non-professional researchers. I am a patient, I am a person and I am a non-professional researcher in that I am a co-applicant on several research applications. I cannot remember how many but that’s chemo-brain for you. Anyway, I have agreed to sit on a panel to read papers on ethics and give my perspective. Stuff like Incidental Findings – where researchers find out more about you than they expected eg when you have a scan as part of a research trial. The detail that goes into the trial design is incredible, as it should be.

I arrive at the venue which is surprisingly swish and hi-tech behind it’s rather drab exterior and immediately think of my friend, Claire, who I know is doing something senior in the NHS so I text her to ask if she works in the building. She sends one back, confirming she does. Is she free for lunch? She’s out of the building all day. Booo. We’ve been trying to arrange a lunch for ages. Still, there is always next year. I go to the meeting room and immediately someone says “I know you!” and reminds me of a workshop I ran with colleagues that she attended. More than that, a man arrives who was also at the workshop. There are only 2 others attending and one of them knows several people I know and the other woman discovers she is sitting on a committee with the woman who recognised me when I arrived. It’s making the world very small. On the tube home, we sit and discuss this very topic when, lo and behold! A friend I haven’t seen since I was first ill gets on the train and we exclaim and hug and then spend the next few minutes catching up. It’s an extraordinary day.

The following day I meet up for a coffee with my lovely Italian friend who tells me that her recent brain scan had an incidental finding of lesions in her brain. Bloody cancer. Never happy with what it’s taking it always wants more. Her lesions can hopefully be zapped with a cyber knife but it’s still a terrible blow. And another bit of synchronicity given I was talking about incidental findings just the day before.

Yesterday I have an accident. I am not sure how to describe it without causing dreadful offence to anyone who reads the blog but feel it should be told. Bear in mind that Mr Mason and I are liberals with marked socialist leanings but that we occasionally like to break out and do really silly things. So. We are making gingerbread and biscotti to give to our friends on Saturday night. I leave Mr Mason to continue the baking while I go to have a shower. When I come down, Mr Mason says something along the lines that he has been trying to create a gingerbread Hitler but it didn’t go well. He was struggling with shaping the holocaust author. Mr Mason then has to go to the supermarket to buy things and, while he is gone, I think I will surprise him by adding gel colouring to the gingerbread men, making them look like the Fuhrer so it will amuse him and we can have fun biting his head off. I busy myself with creating tiny toothbrush moustaches and giving the gingerbread men big smiles. I then have to put the biscotti and the non-Nazi gingerbread men into cellophane bags so I can add ribbon to them. I add ribbon to 2 packs and curl it beautifully. I think I will use a different colour ribbon to the other packs and reach down to pick up the ribbon which is on the floor. At this point, I should explain we have chairs in our house which are over 100 years old and, it is at this point, despite many remarks to Mr Mason about glueing the joints of the chairs, that my chair decides it has had enough and there is a loud cracking sound as I am tipped back swiftly, my head banging hard on the edge of a wooden CD rack behind me and leaving me stunned and thoroughly roughed-up on the floor.

After I pick myself up, somewhat carefully as a lot of me hurts, including my left lymphoedema arm, I phone Mr Mason to advise that he should come home early but his phone goes straight to answerphone. I then have a choice of offspring – Master Mason who is only a few miles away, or Miss Mason who is many thousands of miles away. It’s an obvious choice. I call Miss Mason and tell her I have had an accident and although it one of her most favourite kinds – someone falling over or being deposited on the floor – she does not laugh but is concerned and kindly. I have a huge lump on the back of my head which hurts – a lot. Master Mason would just have told me off for being so foolish and toppling myself onto the floor.

I feel it is probably karma. Obviously making gingerbread men resembling Hitler is a bad thing and in incredibly bad taste so Life intervened and threw me to the floor in protest. In my defence, I would like to say it was Mr Mason who started it. OK, I took it further but honest, guv, I didn’t mean it. And he should have glued the joints on the chair AGES ago. And now I’ll stop digging. Sorry.