can’t think straight, can write can’t think of anything to say – I am stuck at home, can’t drive, or walk, or eat much that doesn’t taste of vinegar can’t do much at all really so I think I will moan. First my hearts beating like a teenager who wants to party that has been grounded for the week. Second I am starving because of the steroids, well not really starving just greedy, but everything tastes vile. Third I am dizzy so that every time I stand up I feel urgently in need of a sit down. Forth I am sweaty and gross. Fifth I am plain pissed off. Grump, grump, grump. Actually this course of steroids has not been a joy like the first lot 2 years ago. The first lot gave me boundless if misguided and uncontrollable creative energy, which I gather is unusual, this time I am just irritated by everyone and everything that doesn’t complement my gruff mood. Beware any cold callers cos I am very rude today. Even the cats demands for constant troughing is annoying.

Boy I am sick of saying how I am. ILL !!! – stop asking – isn’t it obvious. I don’t need sympathy or consideration or good wishes I just need sherbet dib dabs – strangely they taste goodish. Most of all I am irritated with myself and my lack of get up and go. Can’t seem to focus on the stuff I normally like. Tv comedy drives me mad and the adverts almost push me over the edge. A melancholy Scandy holds my attention for a bit but really my favourite bit of the day is bedtime, thalidomide is like a strong sedative. My least favourite bit is getting up which is preceded by a very complex ritual of tiresome drug taking guided by a spreadsheet Maria created for me and competed with sour tasting porridge or toast. Grump grump grump.

So all in all crap.

So now my official birthday is past (I was slipped an absolutely amazing present by my two sisters – naughty them) I am on to contemplating my August 1 birthday. Given August 1st is a Tuesday we will covene the barbecue and camping in York on 29th July thus my target is to have something memorable playing in the telephone box by then. I have spent the best part of the day on my back imagining what that might be and have come to no clear conclusion. So we will have to wait and see.

I have nothing more to say – Grump!

I am falling to bits

The thing about chemotherapy is that if you are lucky it works – in my case brilliantly – but whether it works or not it likes to leave an impression. So I am peeing blood, my heart is pounding like the flying Scotsman and I am as stoned as Jimmy Hendrix. So an infection and heart issues – great! Basically I am falling to bits while being rebuilt. My consultant is clearly very pleased with the results, concerned about the side effect but basically of the view that I should stick it out – so I am. At present I have trouble walking to the garden gate (were we to have one) so going to Hull and teaching is, somewhat with regret, out. Needless to say this is really tough on my already overstretched colleagues and I do hope to provide some virtual teaching if it can be set up.

All in all an encouraging consultation but I still feel like a proper 60 year old, you know the type, Grammy leg, dodgy heart, always moaning about their illnesses – I’ll have a Pale Ale.

Marmite and Coke and head in the shed

I have entered a short story into a competition. The subject has to be food and drink. The prize is £10,000 and it is to be judged by Mary Berry and Phillip Pullman. This is my entry.


ARGGG – just realised it breaks the rules of the competition so I have had to take it down – sorry – it is brilliant

so instead…

4:00 am Monday – My room is part of my therapy.

This is to be my first and last self help guide. I shall adopt a circumspect and slightly smug tone.

As you know I have cancer and when you have a serious illness it is suggested that alongside conventional treatment you should also retain an open mind about complimentary therapies. Many of these are provide by the NHS for free and they include things like Raiki, aromatherapy, foot massage, head massage as well as talking therapies and group therapies. I had a go at a couple but didn’t get on with them at all so I thought it might be useful to share with others my own alternative therapy.

I will call it shed therapy

I am very fortunate because I have all the normal necessities and my beloved family around me to keep me sane and happy. I would add to this one more thing that has been fundamental to my mental health since I was about nine years old, a house big enough so that I can have a dedicated me space. These spaces are my rooms, or if you prefer my sheds

My sheds are two spaces but they operate as one. The physical space is as you would imagine a room in a house while the metaphysical space is a room in my head. Hence head in the shed (meaning lost in crazy self contemplation) I hate the term man cave for the former but if it helps you dear readers to think in such crass terms then be my guest – a man cave it is. Since the age of nine the physical space I create is orderly, clean and tidy but exceptionally full of stuff. The order is apparent only to me. For example without counting them I would say I have something in the region of 50 drawers in my room of various sizes all containing critical bits and pieces mainly of a technical nature. Most of my furniture is on wheels, the idea being that I could wheel it all out and create a rehearsal space, an idea long since abandoned. I have two scaffolding poles the length of the ceiling, put in when the room was being built that allow me to trail cables across the ceiling and hang anything I like from above, speakers, lights etc. The room has a concrete painted floor so I can freely drill and burn and solder and do all those other man cave things. It is on the ground floor in the centre of the house next to the kitchen so household hubbub is a comforting background buzz. It is paradise.

It forms the perfect analogue of my head. All the things that fill my head fill my room and vice versa. If I am dreaming of theatre I have theatre models and props, if I am needing music I have all the players and instrument. If I need to write I have pens typewriters, rulers, staplers, guillotines, Prit and drawing boards. I have hundreds of tools, gazillions of cables, all my lighters and phones. I have a work bench a vice, a magnifying light. Filing cabinets, books and records. For nourishment of mind and hand I have absolutely no need to go anywhere else. My creative life is completed and rounded by these two spaces. I cannot imagine why, given this incredible abundance anyone would need to travel more than 50 metres. I hereby declare that I would happily live out the rest of my life without moving out of my sheds except to watch telly and barbecue in the summer .

I cannot recommend it enough.
So feeling blue, stressed, or just plain poorly get yourself a shed and pour the contents of your head into it.