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Monday 10th May. Reprieve!

10/05/2004

I had a session with my doctor this morning. I am so used to the hospital, I could walk round it with my eyes closed. I always get a milky coffee from the kind ladies who serve at the hatch. Today it wasn’t even cold by the time the appointment had finished! My doctor looks well. He’s been on holiday in Florida, which is says is full of wild beasts. He was the only doctor in the clinic, and obviously had a huge list of people to see. My tests were all ok…liver function and all that stuff. He gave me more treatment free parole, and just said we would do another scan and see what to do then. He knows that I don’t want any chemotherapy. My body seems to have stabilised itself for the time being. I feel more relaxed, more energetic than I did. The cancer cells must have lost their sense of direction for the time being. Or perhaps it’s all your good thoughts sweeping them away!

We walked back along the endless corridors of the RVI. There are paintings and photographs everywhere, that remind you where you are. It suddenly felt almost homely and I felt a sudden affection for the dear tea ladies and cleaners in their overalls with their trolleys and polishers and the patients trudging between wards.

On Thursday I did a workshop and reading in Beverley, organised by John Clarke from Wordquake. the workshop was in a panelled municipal art gallery, that smelled of old libraries, and was full of sunlight. I had a brilliant group of clever women, with poetry fizzing inside them, so that all you had to do was set them off and they wrote fantastic stuff. We were writing about bodies and pain, finding new vocabularies to talk about the crisises in our lives. Later I read in Nelly’s Pub, surely one of the most atmospheric pubs in England. It still has gaslights, and even though it was Spring, John had lit a roaring fire. I do love flames! We had a discussion at the end of the reading….one man talked about poetry ‘healing’ language itself. I loved that idea, of poetry fixing all the wounds and tears of sentences and words, finding new images.

I spent the next day exploring Beverley, looking at the minster that is full of delightful stone people grimacing and cavorting and pulling faces. It’s a brave, unusual town, full of surprising niches and stories.

Also, I have just finished Colm Toibin’s The Master…a novel about Henry James. At first I didn’t really get it…but as the novel goes on it gathers momentum and emotional energy, and by the end I was entranced and obsessed with it. It made me feel like writing too, with descriptions of James’s rooms and domestic arrangements. It is a book that is about loneliness, and what a writer gives up. It’s written so sparingly and quietly…I really recommend it.

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