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Hot Drowsy Days

05/06/2004

It’s been a bit of groggy week. I have felt a kind of unidentified malaise, and an awful lack of energy. I hate this languid feeling. I have been saved by historical romantic fiction, and have read yet another Phillipa Gregory novel full of corset ripping and women on horseback with whips. Her books are so compulsive you could read them walking down the street. Actually, the one I am reading now is making me feel a bit sick, and I have wrenched myself from it to come and do some writing in my room.

I had my pamidromate drip for my bones on Tuesday, and they told me that my blood count is low again, so I should maybe have another transfusion soon. Although I try to be existentialist about this illness, sometimes it just feels like an endless series of appointments. You get tired and bored of it. And I have so much that I want to do at the moment. I finished the Body parts play for Live Theatre. I wrote about two old women in a turkish bath, talking about their doctors. I am also working on scenes for the stage adaptation of the Taxi Driver’s Daughter, which is on as part of Live Theatre’s New Writing Festival. It’s interesting adapting your own novel….you have really let go and invent new things, and not be too literal about the book. Nice to know what the story is though!

Anyway, it did occur to me that everytime I have managed to do some work, my body has felt better. That’s why resting isn’t necessarily the best medicine for me. I need the stimulation of invention, and talking to other people. The body influences the mind, and the mind influences the body.

I have decided to make a television piece with the BBC, for a programme called Inside out. They have given me a camera to do a video diary, and we will be filming some hospital visits, and workshops with GPs. I want it to be about poetry and health, and how writing can sustain someone through illness. Also I have started working with an artist called Peter Furlinger on a kind of ‘thankyou stone’ instead of the usual sad gravestone from the bereaved. I am agonising about what to say on it at the moment. I have booked a plot too, in the Old Jesmond Graveyard in a really lovely spot. Peter said he had never worked on a headstone with someone living before! I think some of our discussions might be included in the TV film. It feels like quite a nice thing to do, and something I can do quite slowly. It certainly doesn’t feel morbid! I worry about telling everyone this, incase they think my death is imminent. It doesn’t feel that way. I still have a tremendous appetite, and I quite often eat snacks in the middle of the night. My body feels extremely solid, and not at all withering. Anyway, who knows….maybe I shall start a trend of ‘thanking stones’…and soon we shall all be making them !

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