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Life Is Suffering !


Life is suffering, but not all the time. I spent the weekend at the MalMaison Hotel in Clerkenwell with my mum, ordering sandwiches and tea from room service. I ate mussels and three different types of chocolate ice cream. We watched a Woody Allen film in bed, had many baths, and did the crossword. We had aromatherapy treatments and smelt like pot pourri.

At one point we went out. It was quite cold on Saturday, but not as cold as Newcastle. We went to St Bartholemew’s Church, then Carluccios at Smithfield, where the hot chocolate is thick and the bread extremely fresh and the waiters smile alot. Then , in a sudden burst of zealous energy, we tramped down to Aldgate to see the new women’s library in a place called The Wash House. I think we were expecting sofas and welcoming arms. Actually the library is a rather sombre, intellectual affair made of red brick. My mum and I got told off several times…for not putting our bags in a locker, for wanting things that we were not allowed to have, for generally being noisy and chaotic. Finally we got into the hushed ‘reading room,’ and realised that there was nothing, at this point, we really needed to know about the history of womankind, although I was very impressed by the archive of women’s magazines. After this we wandered around Brick Lane, remembering my great aunt, Edith Ramsay, who had been immersed in the Jewish community in those streets. She loved the buildings and their histories.

Anyway, you can imagine that after this we were quite beside ourselves and very cold. This is, infact, my main symptom…a kind of awful exhaustion, cold bones, and sense of inner ‘crashing.’ Yet, I imagine many people who don’t have cancer feel like this. Also my situation is very like being old, when things start decaying and declining, and you know that you haven’t got long. The only difference between me and an old person is that I am still quite young! (what a profound statement THAT is!) Also all my friends are mostly alive, so there are plenty of people to come to my funeral. It must be rotten when you live longer than anyone else.

On Sunday I met my oldest friend and we talked about life and death in the British Library. There is the most fantastic collection of woodcuts there, if anyone is passing by. Anyway, in the end we decided that 1. Everone is alone 2. Life is suffering 3. You might as well be happy.

On the way back on the train the light was pink and gold. I talked to a lost South African girl from Johannesburg. She wasn’t really prepared for a Northern February, and as the landscape became more and more icy and bare she looked increasingly dubious. Then the train didn’t even stop at Durham, where she wanted to get out, and the Glaswegian guards were all jolly and kind, but she didn’t understand a word they said. Where is she now in her t.shirt and jeans?

There are no more complaints from the liver department though, but thanks very much for thoughts and emails. It’s such a wonderful antidote to the loneliness of illness, this weblog. I recommend it. The next thing medically will be loads of scans…but I shan’t think about them yet.