Off I go on a London bus for my blood test on a typical London morning – lowering grey sky, chilly wind, hint of moisture in the air.
On the journey, I compose a satirical verse about chemo (not suitable for publication.)
There is virtually no traffic, so I arrive early, but am immediately summoned by charming agency nurse with sparkling white jacket and smile to match. I tell her the tale of last week’s drugs mess up and she does all she can to sort things out for my chemo tomorrow.
6pm. Just dishing up some spaghetti for our pre Richmond Theatre supper. Phone rings. What timing. It is a very apologetic Helen (of Daisy Pulls it Off).
My blood sample was wrongly labelled – so much for charming agency nurse – and will have to be taken again tomorrow, with my chemo deferred until Friday. Grit teeth. That will make a total of 4 early morning appointments this week.
At last — a good side effect
In the afternoon, go for a much needed haircut. Hairdresser tells me my hair is now a lot less coarse than it was pre-chemo. At last – a beneficial side effect.
Everyone wonderfully sympathetic, apologetic and efficient when I appear for my repeat blood test on Thursday, and my chemo session on Friday is, apart from Pharmacy’s brinkmanship tactics – delivering everything at the very last moment – equally smooth.
A jolly fellow patient tells me I shouldn’t have led him into temptation by leaving my chocolate supply (Lindt sea salt) in full view while I went to the loo.
A new patient – white alpha male – treats the rest of us to 2 lengthy series of phone calls concerning his current business deals. He continues with these both when a nurse is trying to talk to him and while he eats his lunch.
Talking of lunch, in place of the inimitable James this is delivered by a statuesque female with the kind of aggressively flawless make-up one associates with the assistants in the cosmetics department of a large store.
The kakumba sandwich
She offers me a tuna and ‘kakumba’ sandwich. Sounds exotic and I go for it, but as you have of course guessed it proves on examination to be just tuna and your humble (saltless) cucumber.
I am away from the hospital soon after 2.30 and have high hopes of getting home in time to enjoy plenty of warm sunshine – yes, we have been vouchsafed a good day at last – on the patio.
However, in East Sheen the bus runs into an appalling traffic jam. After an hour almost stationary we catch up, if that’s the word, with the bus in front, which we are told we must board.
I can scramble with the best of them and so secure a seat. Across the aisle is a woman who repeats, on a loop, a meaningless narrative about her supposed affinity with her pet cat to all who are willing to listen.
This does not include my neighbour, a typical Richmond burgher who is muttering to himself: ‘Oh, not again, six times now.’
A dislike of cats…shared
When she starts on the 7th narration, he directs his remarks to me and confides his dislike of cats, which (confession) I share. He rejects my plea for tolerance, perhaps unsurprisingly. He has had an hour of it.
I finally make it home at 4.45, to be restored with first tea and then wine while admiring Tom’s latest additions to the patio – 2 birdcage mirrors.
Later, off we go to the fish restaurant, where delicious and plentiful plaice and chips and the house Pinot Grigio, all of which I can taste, complete my restoration.