Sunday, 9 July 2017

Strip the boat

Ann and Edwin have gone to Glasgow for the w/e to meet Ann's newly discovered cousins. I should have gone, but was too slow deciding and missed the chance, so I went to see the new Spiderman instead with Matthew. They went to an underground vegan restaurant last night, recommended by Edwin's friend. I ate at the local steakhouse.

My run of ill luck continues with the turning of the year. I drove into the carpark at the Swan for an outdoors drink in the sun with Matthew and the dogs, so we could take them for a long walk round the hills behind Clare, but scraped the door on a metal girder at the narrow entrance! So typical of events at the moment.

Last w/e Matthew helped me move the boat from Ely to St Ives, for sale with Jones' Boatyard. It overheated on the journey, with the alarm screaming as I woke to race into the cockpit and stop the engine. There was much weed in the river after the heat of the week, but  filter wasn't blocked, which puzzled me. Fortunately we were on the slow moving, narrow Old West River, and could drift into some reeds. Matthew seized the chance to prepare lunch - a lovely dish of cheese on toast, while I lifted the flooring and worked over the engine. After lunch, she started again with a silent buzzer. The prop was wrapped in long weeds, and the boat would hardly move or turn with the engine straining, but a quick burst astern released them. I think the overheating too was due to a single lily pad leaf blocking the water intake.

Today we went back to remove the bits from the boat. The boatyard said it would need a power wash and stripping of everything on board. They had piled them up in a shed, and I couldn't believe the height of the stuff. The blankets made sense - everyone wants new bedding. But the cutlery and crockery? The kettle and pans? The vacuum cleaner? Even the  coiled flat water hose and the book of charts for the river systems? The new owners will have to buy everything! But I'm sure the chandlery will willingly supply it all.

We took a long walk across the meadows to the old 15th C. bridge at St Ives, with its remarkable chapel half way across that doubled as a customs house. St Ives was strong round-head territory, and Cromwell ordered the far spans to be pulled down and replaced by a drawbridge, to defend against the potential Royalist threat. They have been rebuilt now, but in a very different style from the pointed medieval arches. The Dolphin Hotel by the river had sullen unhelpful staff. They had a carvery on, but would not serve outside where we sat with the dogs. Across the ancient bridge, we found The White Hart. What a contrast - a friendly welcoming woman behind the bar, who directed us to a table in the window, and brought the dogs water. A brilliant menu too, with a huge beef roast for Matthew and a delicious mushroom stroganoff for me. I think this reflects the attitude of the management, and is a lesson for every business. It does not take much to make people happy at work: flexible hours, sensitivity to requirements for time off; an appreciative word, and one is willing to put in a little more effort; to support the business with innovative ideas; to work a little longer where needed; and to share a smile with the clients. Another place may not pay less, but will treat the staff less considerately. They resent the time there and work slower and inefficiently; the chef may care less about food preparation and hygiene; a scowl replaces friendliness, and custom falls away.

I tried to persuade Matthew to go to La Boheme with me tonight, but he declined, as opera is not his thing, so he stayed back to feed the dogs and watch them for an hour.

Today I felt a small but firm nodule in my neck. Even these slight things seem threatening now, whereas before I would have dismissed it as secondary to the inflamed wounds. A diagnosis of malignant melanoma leaves the future suspended; uncertain though fate is when young, it now is chaos personified. The random movement of a single cell may fix my end. At least La Boheme was good, but sad not to share it with Ann.

Removal of the stitches

Back to Addenbrooke's for dressings off and stitches out. Not pleasant, as hair had tangled with the blood, with dressings adherent. The ear is uncomfortable now. Still quite numb, but odd feelings returning with a dull ache like toothache, a strange pulling where the skin is stretched, and occasional sharp spikes like a wasp sting. It's still weeping, but at least I can have a shower now, and we have a brand new bathroom to enjoy it in. 

I will spare the feelings of any squeamish reader by not printing a photo of the ear. I am not too self conscious of it, except for its twinges, but I feel a deep loss even for this little bit, that makes me humble before the far greater loss for women who loose a breast. It is a little death, nothing in itself, but I get periods when I'm aware that my body now has an alien invader, that will seize the slightest chance to spread and grow. The threat of radio- or chemo-therapy hang upon my future like a black cobweb, waiting to snare me and drag me under. I can live but day by day, and make each remaining one precious.