inner voice



To spare my blushes, I’d like to think, that you haven’t really lived until you’ve found yourself bawling your eyes out in the Japanese Wing of the V&A. Goodness only knows what the other visitors thought. Perhaps that I was communing deeply with the pottery in front of me. Having strangers think that I am so wonderfully deep, that the sight of a beautiful pot can move me to tears is what soothes the humiliation of crying in public.

I love museums; love their dusky, musky smells, love the near silent revelry of those within. I find it amazing how quiet, a huge, booming building can be.

I love the V&A best of all. I love it especially on a week day. I love discovering some new wing or tiny artefact. The last time I visited (before the tears), I came across a carpet so precious that it could only be lit for 10 mins every hour! What was more remarkable, that there was people waiting to view it, a wait of 20 minutes.

I adore the V&A as a building, as a monument to love, ostensibly. I adore what it means to A. and I, the hours we’ve spent wandering its great halls. I like the gift shop, and the tea room and the amount of dust that dances its way across the beams of sunshine; from the windows that look out into the garden in the middle.

All of this and none of it was tickling my brain, that Tuesday, while I was idly contemplating the Japanese ceramics. I was feeling a deep joy to be back, when “blam!” the fear got me.

I didn’t see him sneaking in, he must have been tailing me all morning, following in the shadows, sniffing about where he’s not wanted. This particular fear is a peculiar one, he’s reasonably new to me.

You know that feeling when you are so happy you think your heart my burst or your head explode? This fear must be attracted to the pheromones that sort of joy creates and just at the point of bursting or explosion, he comes along with his big, icy hands and clamps them firmly upon you. All the time he’s whispering that you are so stupid to be happy or joyous and even though the sun is shining the storm clouds aren’t far behind; don’t you know something will happen soon to make it so you’ll never feel happy again? Not only will you never feel it again, you will be so robbed as to never even remember what happy felt like. Joy will be lost to you.

But remarkably what the fear was whispering, scary as it was, was not what I was crying about. What left me wailing in front of the pots (and tourists of many nationalities) that day was the sudden realisation that my reaction to feeling ‘dance a jig’ happy was to be scared of what was going to happen to ruin it. I wept that day because I was so sad, that my experiences, could leave me so, so fearful of joy. I cried so much I had to go and have a cup of tea in the William Morris tea room. Later, when I got to work, I cried all over again.

I’ve been absent from little blog for a while, not because I’ve spent the last few months weeping and wailing. I’ve been pretty tired, exhausted might be a better word. The concentration I’ve needed to expend at work has left me little energy for much else. The longer I was working the more difficult it was to do much more.

I had no real problem with this, I wanted to go back to work quickly after Chemo finished and since then spotty dogs and star-crossed lovers have occupied my brain. Strategically, I figured taking time of in the dreary winter months would be a waste. I doubted I could recover mentally or physically while getting blue in the February gloom. So I worked and worked and saved and saved, deciding to have a sabbatical in the spring/summer. Like the rest of creation, I would reawaken with the sunshine.

This plan worked for the most part. I was too busy to contemplate the enormity of the last year and my complex feelings towards it all. It was enough to try to kick-start my sluggish brain and more sluggish body. But glitches began to surface, you can ignore the wilderness between your ears, you can work until you are too tired to think too deeply but your mind will find a way. You might find yourself unable to stop crying because watching a ‘Juliet’ with a similar hair cut to you, trying to work up the courage stab herself, will remind you of you before each Chemo session. Or you may cry because you are sad for yourself, in the Japanese Wing of the V&A, on a Tuesday, when all you were feeling was happy. It could be any number of things I suppose, I find them almost daily at the moment.

Yet, I’m grateful for the tears. I didn’t cry that much after mum died. I’d get a strange pain and drying in my throat, then I’d clamp down and carry on in my peculiar numb way. This didn’t work out all that well for me. The more I thought of tears as a sign of weakness and controlling them as a sort of strength, the sicker and sicker I got. I am relieved at how easily the tears come these days, they don’t last that long if you just let them fall, then you can hunt out a hug and blow them a kiss goodbye for an hour or a day. Healing, they seem healing to me.

It would be helpful, mind you, if I could be suddenly multi-lingual, just so I can explain in any number of languages that I’m ok really and that perhaps those onlookers might like to see the carpet that is lit for only 10 minutes on the hour instead ….


The Voices In My Head – MRI Scan Edition.

This is why one of the Golden Rules is about being too cocky…. It’s written for Miss Z, who has been a great friend – she is smart and beautiful (she did not pay me to say this).

“Ha, as nice as she was, that nurse doesn’t know what she’s talking about. There’s no way I’m going to need this panic button, those people who’ve used it – did she say 2 in the last week alone? – they must be made of marshmallows compared to me”

“OOO, marshmallows, I love s’mores, OOO we should totally do that in the summer.”

“Yes inner-voice that is a very good plan – wait are we moving?”

“Holey-moley, we are really close to the top of this tube thing, it’s a good thing that we, unlike some, are not claustrophobic.”

“Don’t be too smug now, it isn’t nice.”

“You’re right inner-voice, so wise.”

“Thank you…. Have I told you I think we are rocking Cancer Chic at the moment?”

“Why no, but thank you, I think the Sweaty Betty yoga bottoms are a good way to go, practical and comfy…. It’s a bit cool in here though, imagine, the nurse said we probably wouldn’t need the blanket! Glad we insisted.”



(dear reader, please for both ours sakes, imagine that the rest of this monologue / stream of consciousness is all in CAPS because damn, if MRI’s aren’t loud)

“We’ve had one of these before haven’t we? On our deaf ear? I don’t remember it being like this. We fell asleep didn’t we?”

“Now that I’m really thinking about it, I think we were lying on our good ear, thus cushioning us from all this hideous sound”

“And that’s just the music”

“Ha, you’ve still got it, calm under fire, like always”

“Shhhh, I think the nurse is speaking”

“Did she just say that that was just one of the tests?”

“Yes, it appears that is what she said”

“But it’s been ages and ages”

“You realise, it’s probably been about 5 minutes?”

“Shut up”


“OK, don’t shut up, talk to me. I don’t like this noise and the needle in my arm is making me a bit twitchy”

“Yes it is weird that they are going to inject things into us remotely”

“Weird? it’s down right creepy, Like H.A.L”

“You know, you shouldn’t really reference things you haven’t seen, it’s ok when it’s just you and me, but you may get caught out around others”

“Is this not like H.A.L then?”

“How would I know? We haven’t seen it?”

“Good point………………………….I think it’s like H.A.L”

“Shall we go back to not speaking? Lets just try and listen to the radio over this din”


“O.K, can we speak, the nurse just said we were getting an injection now and I’m a little scared”

“Let’s think about happy things, remember when we first met A.”

“Of course, he was building a quick-change area the size of a small apartment”

“I think he had on a the striped T-shirt he now wears on the allotment or the weird one about hair”

“It’s a good guess, it was probably one of those, he normally was. Can you remember your first kiss?”

“With A? I can, but as it was rather Gin sodden I’d rather not at the moment. This metallic taste in my mouth is rather unpleasant, like hangover mouth”

“It’s just from the injection, We stood in a bucket of paint didn’t we?”

“Yes, but move it along please

“Shall we think about the lovely view over the ocean at Friday Harbour, walks with Dad, the beach with a cup of tea? That was a really nice time, we are lucky”

“I do not feel very flipping lucky at the moment, I am in a tiny tube, topless, with my tits in a cage, I’m 34 and I have cancer!”

“Woah there missy, calm down, breath”

“I am too hot, the radio is too loud, the noise over the radio is off the scale loud”

“Those are all facts, but it won’t last forever, lets count to ten. One, two, three, four…”

“I don’t want to count to ten, leave me to my misery”

“No, as Meatloaf says, ‘I won’t do that’ ”

“Have I told you lately…”

“Rod Stewart”

“…That you, are possibly the un-coolest, jackass in the world?”

“You know what? I’ve been trying to be kind to you but there is just no dealing with you when you are being like this”

>“Hang on a minute, this is what they want. They want us to turn on each other, this is some torture device…”

“No, I’m pretty sure it’s an MRI”

“It could be used for torture, not that I approve of that kind of thing, but I bet this would be more effective than water boarding, I’d give up Dad, I’d give up A, hell I’d tell them anything they wanted to know.”

“Could you be more dramatic”

Friends isn’t cool anymore”

“You’ve just quoted Meatloaf and Rod Stewart, and you haven’t seen 2001, A Space Odyssey – at your age – cool is a distant dream, my friend”

“Well, if you can’t handle this, your secret dream to be an FBI or CIA agent is laughable”

“Come to think of it, do you wonder why it’s an FBI or CIA agent? What’s wrong with MI5, like Bond?”

“That’s it I’ve had enough, I want out. I want out. I’m pressing the button”

“NOOOOOO! Remember what the nurse said, if we press the button we will only have to redo it. Just stay calm, it can’t be much longer”

“I’m sorry, I can’t, I’m so hot, I hate the metal tube, lying on my front and my own thoughts. I’m pressing the button”

“SHHHH wait, we’re moving, we’re going out”

“Oh thank fuck for that, that was the longest 45 minutes of my life”