Post-op 2

It’s now 6 weeks since my latest (and probably last) operation. My recovery has been so much better than last time.

Once more, I cannot praise enough the post op recovery staff. As at Leeds in January, the nursing staff went about their tasks with skill, professionalism and a sense of humour. The support from all the staff was exactly what is needed when people are at their most vulnerable. The Christie is much better resourced than Jimmy’s in Leeds. It’s a Foundation hospital and charity and therefore attracts additional resources. And it’s a specialist cancer hospital with all operations planned, rather than a general hospital such as Jimmy’s that has to deal with everything including emergencies (I was one of those last January). I spent the first 2 post-op nights in the high-tech Critical Care Unit, where staff did talk to me, but were more interested in the computer screen next to me that contained the real information about how I was! Unrestricted visiting hours were a real bonus, and though it’s all a bit hazy in my memory now I have a recollection of watching England v Poland there with Jane and Alex. On the ward, staff weren’t under the same stresses as at Jimmy’s and could focus on their core job rather than having also to be housing case-workers and social workers.

My recovery was aided by me being much fitter at the outset than last time and avoiding wound infections. Before the op one of the surgeons, looking at the scar tissue from the previous op, said he’d also “tidy all that up”, like a plumber looking at old pipe-work.  He was true to his word: they removed all the scar tissue (and belly button!) leaving me with a much neater, though longer, scar. I was out of bed the following day and as soon as I was disconnected from the fluid drips and epidural I was pottering about the ward carrying a couple of bodily-fluid bags. As soon as these were removed (about day 5) I was on the move and wandering round the hospital. I even got out with Jane for a shuffle around leafy West Didsbury, enjoying how autumn had permeated in the week since I’d come into hospital. It was interesting being on a ward full of cancer patients, all on our own particular journeys and each carrying a range of fears and hopes – but mutually supportive and with a lot of humour! Some of the conversations reminded me of the Jeremy Hardy gag: it’s the place where you’re most likely to hear “unexpected item in bagging area”!

Most of you will know that the outcome was disappointing, though not unexpected. On the way over to Manchester I said to Jane that for me the most likely outcome was that they’d find the disease too widespread and therefore would not go ahead with the full procedure. I don’t know why I felt that way; “gut instinct” Jane said! Someone said recently that I’m now back at square 1.

Spacetime theory tells us that time dilation only occurs when an objects travel at different speeds through space.  Many reading this blog will be aware that whatever Brian Cox says, time seems to go faster the older we get. But as I said in a previous blog, for me it’s as if the accelerator on life’s journey has been pressed hard to the floor, so the theory stands up: the same journey for me will take much less time. The point of all this is that square 1 seems long gone, and there’s no going back to it. To use another of my metaphors, I reached a junction and chose a particular path. It turned out not to be passable, but instead of going back, I’ve gone over a hill to seek the other path further along its road.

I have no regrets about choosing the path I did in going for the op, but it has been difficult getting back to the other path, for two reasons. First, I always feel more positive when I’m doing something. So whilst on chemo I felt I was on the case: deciding to go for the operation gave me a new focus. Now I’m awaiting another scan to see what, if anything, is visible and therefore able to be monitored to see when further chemo might be needed. (The tumours aren’t quite operating in a SMART way. They are specific, seem to be attainable and relevant, are certainly time-bound, but they fail to be measurable.)

The other psychological difference comes from my prognosis. All the doctors say it’s impossible to make accurate predictions for any cancer, let alone such a rare one. So when they said they have an expectation of 50% of people with my condition and treatment being alive in 18 months (from the beginning of my treatment) it was almost meaningless, and certainly wasn’t saying I’d 18 months to live. But it’s a timescale that lodges in the brain however much I say it’s meaningless.  And we define time so much in years: so to me more than a year is like a lifetime, less than a year seems very soon!  I’m therefore working hard to avoid thinking too much about this. I’m slowly getting back to how I was before the op, doing the things I want to do, enjoying life as much as possible. Jane and I spent a lovely weekend in the Lakes recently, even though the high fells were out of bounds for me. And next week I’m going with Alex to Iceland for 5 days. In between I’m seeing lots of family and friends, going to films and concerts, and despite a very heavy cold (I feel I should be given exemption from such things) I’m feeling pretty good. But I do need to remember a story told by a ward-mate at The Christie as I was making a list of the things I plan to do. He knew someone who was given a few months to live, so sold her house, cashed in everything she could cash in, and had a wonderful few months …….then lived for 10 years in poverty!

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Choosing the route

My intention was for this blog to be reflections on social and economic inequality – which I think is, along with climate change, the most important issue facing us globally and nationally. But that blog is still baking and is far from ready. So with a major landmark looming on my journey, I’m going to use this blog as an update.

I wrote in my last blog about the looming fork in the road for me: both directions will take me to the same destination but by very different routes, the problem being that there’s no clear map about the length of journey or the terrain on either route.  I’d resolved not to make a decision on whether or not to go for the op at The Christie until I was sure it was going to be offered to me. I didn’t want to decide on this road and then find posted a No Entry sign. Whether or not I would be offered the op was dependant on the results from the PET scan I had on 20th September. My appointment with the consultant was on Thursday last week.

To be honest, I think I’d decided beforehand that I would take up the option of the op if offered it, unless answers to questions I had gave me reason not to. The outcome was that the scan didn’t show anything to prevent the op, so they made the offer…..and I accepted.   The op is scheduled for next Monday 14th October. Ideally I wanted another week or two, but if I’d turned down the slot they couldn’t fit me in until mid-November. So 14th October it is – only a week away! Given my rising anxiety since Thursday, it’s probably a good thing to be sooner rather than later.

I know this route offers very rough terrain immediately after turning at the fork in the road. I’ll spare the details of the op except for three things. First, they still may not go through with the procedure if, when they get in there, they find the tumours impossible to remove without too much damage. Secondly, the procedure has developed the acronym MOAS on patient forums, which stands for Mother Of All Surgeries!  It can take 12 hours. Thirdly, and not relevant to anything or anyone other than those with a strange interest in such things, I’ll be left without a belly-button! My belly-button has already become a source of both interest and humour in my family, as the healing of the infected part of my wound from January’s op has pushed it to one side where it now rests, never to return to its central position. For this op they will cut on both sides of the existing scar, cutting out the scar tissue…………. and my belly-button! Maybe I’ll ask for it in a jar when I leave hospital.

Having the op in Manchester of course isn’t of the greatest convenience, particularly for family and friends. I’ll be in hospital probably for 2 weeks.  Interestingly, and strangely for a proud Yorkie such as me, I’ve developed quite an affinity with the city of Manchester over the years: the offices of three organisations I’ve worked for have been based in that great city. So though once I’m in, where I am is really irrelevant, it is a small comfort to be somewhere that I know.

I’ve made the decision to go ahead on the basis that it gives me a chance, albeit a small one, of getting rid of all the tumours. But it does feel a bit perverse choosing to go for such an op (and knowing what the recovery from such an op is like) when I’m feeling better now than I have for nearly a year. It’s well over a month now since I completed the chemo course. I spent 4 days in the Lakes with Alex. Only one was without rain, but that’s a fair result for the Lake District. We climbed Scafell Pike on a gloriously sunny day, and knowing it was going to be wet all the other days, we decided to do Esk Pike and Bowfell on the way down! A crazy thing to do, absolutely knackering, but glorious. The week before last Jane and I spent in Cornwall, with plenty of cream teas and pasties, and walks on the coastal paths in the ever-changing light that contributes to the magic of that part of the world. This coming week I’ve a few events on, including two Benjamin Britten operas that hopefully will keep my mind off what’s to come.

All this means that the definitive words on inequality will have to wait a while.

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Decision time

I think I’m normally very good at decision-making. I can weigh up the pros and cons, make a decision, and go with it without fretting about whether or not it’s right or what might have happened had I taken a course.

I’ve a big decision to make in the next three weeks, and the difficulty for me currently is that I don’t know how I’m going to make it. Subject to the results of a full body PET scan, I’m likely to be offered the operation I mentioned in my last blog. It’s a major operation – could be for up to 12 hours – and involves removing tumours and flooding the whole area with a heated chemo drug to get rid of the rest. The surgeon has reassured me that once they’ve opened me up, if they don’t think they can succeed without removing large amounts of bowel and other useful bits, then they won’t proceed. They’ll just zip me up (if only it was that easy!) without any further intervention.

The PET scan will take place next Friday (20th September). I think that will complete a full set of scans for me – ultrasound, MRI, CT and now PET. I feel I should get something for that achievement, like we could when we completed I Spy books! Perhaps an embossed binder containing a full set of images? Maybe not.  Jane and I are then going away for a week, after which I’ll meet the consultant again. This, subject to what the scan shows, will be decision time.

It may appear to many to be an easy decision – to go with an option that offers a chance of getting rid of all the tumours. The doubts I have are that if the operation isn’t successful (and there is only a small chance of success), or they open me up and decide not to go ahead with the full procedure, then I will lose a chunk of my “well time” before the tumours start having an effect. What makes the decision so difficult is that not only is the outcome of the operation unknown, so is the outcome of not going ahead. No-one knows how long it will be before the tumours start affecting me: it could be weeks, it could be months.

In the meantime, I’m feeling well at the moment. I completed the final round of this particular chemo course last week. It came with a dip in both my energy levels and my spirits, but I’m over that now. Though I’ve been very lucky in responding well to the chemo, it’s good not to be going in for another dose! This week my PICC line (the thin tube that ran through a vein from my upper arm to just above my heart) came out. I had got used to it, having lived with it for 6 months, but it’s good not to have it as a constant reminder, as well as not having the inconvenience of having it flushed out every week.

I’m off to the Lakes again this afternoon for a few days with my son Alex. Scafell Pike is in our sights: hopefully we’ll get there before the terrible weather that’s forecast comes in!

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Fells and paths

When I left hospital in January I promised the nursing staff who’d helped me progress from being unable to move to being able to shuffle down the corridor, that before the summer was out I’d hike to the top of one of the Lakes’ bigger fells – and when I did I’d remember their contribution in helping me get there. Last Saturday I made it to the top of Great Gable[1] – hot, tired, a bit emotional, and very pleased with myself! It had taken a bit of time (I don’t go up hills as fast as I used to. I blame the chemo, but it maybe that Jane is just getting faster, as I can’t keep up with her now!) but I made it.

Jane had to get back to Leeds on Sunday, but with the weather good I stayed on for a couple of extra days. After the consultation at The Christie, which I will come on to shortly, I fancied a meditative day in the hills on my own. So on Monday I had a wonderful (even hotter) long day of walking on my own[2]. I returned to Leeds (on buses and trains) on Tuesday feeling unbelievably tired and unable to speak because of a raging sore throat that had developed slowly over the weekend. I was thinking how stupid I’d been to have stayed on and done such a long walk on such a hot day – and not regretting it because it had been a fabulous day!

Before telling you what happened at The Christie, I just want to sing the praises of the Youth Hostel Association. I stayed at Longthwaite YH in Borrowdale on Sunday and Monday. The YHA is under a lot of financial pressures. It’s had to sell some hostels in order to survive, and there’s a constant tension between commercial pressures to provide what people seem to want (more up-market accommodation), and provide the basic and cheap accommodation to further its mission “to inspire all, especially young people, to broaden their horizons gaining knowledge and independence through new experiences of adventure and discovery”.  What was great about the Borrowdale hostel was the wide range of people staying there. There were families with young children, families with older children, couples of all ages, a group of young people on a course, people on their own (again of all ages, including a few older than me believe it or not). And with no television or mobile signals, evenings were spent talking to each other!

The Christie. This is the hospital in Manchester that has a specialist unit for cancers located in the peritoneum.  I was expecting a review of and possible changes to the chemo treatment I’m receiving. Instead, they said there’s a possibility – depending on future scan results – that they will offer me an option of further surgery. It would be a major operation (12 hours!) and would involve removing as many of the tumours as possible (it’s called cytoreductive surgery), plus heated chemotherapy drugs administered directly in the abdomen during the operation. The consultant said they had a 30 – 40% success rate in removing all tumours. One of the problems will be that because the scan doesn’t show up many of the tumours, they won’t know until they are in there how easy it will be to remove them, and how much bowel or other generally useful bits of my innards they might need to remove as well. So, if I am given this option, it will offer up on the one hand the possibility of a cure, but on the other the possibility of being left in a worse state than I am now, and missing out on probably the best months  that I have remaining. I’ve no idea how I will make such a decision should it come to it. Even a day walking up and down the hills that surround the Newlands Valley didn’t bring me any closer, though it did help clarify the questions I need to put to help me with the decision, and helped me realise that I’m lucky to be given an option: this wouldn’t have been available not too long ago.

So, returning to my journey metaphor, in mid-August I may be told that at the end of the chemo in September I’ll reach a junction in the path. Both routes lead to the same destination of course, but it’s unlikely I’ll have any idea of the length or the type of terrain for either of them. And unlike last week in the Lakes, I won’t have map.


[1] For those interested in these things, we climbed Great Gable from Seathwaite, going round Base Brown to the north and via Green Gable (from where in my opinion you get one of the best views in the Lake District).

 

[2] I went from Rosthwaite up to High Spy, on to Maiden Moor before dropping down to Little Town in the beautiful Newlands Valley, before climbing Hindscarth and on to Dale Head before descending to Rosthwaite via Dale Head Tarn. I guess it was about 12 miles in all.

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A Journey Man’s Blog

I’ve often referred to my current situation as being a journey, one where I know the destination but not the route, the terrain nor the time it will take. The journey theme has been at the forefront of my mind in recent weeks.

First, an update. I’ve recently completed Chemo Round 8. As forecast by the doctors, the tiredness effect is increasing each time, but other side-effects are no worse, and in some cases better than earlier in the treatment. I’ve an appointment tomorrow at the Christie in Manchester, the specialist unit for my type of cancer. My Leeds Oncologist has been liaising with them over my treatment, and said at the outset they may want to see me. So whether this is that they think me an interesting case so worth looking at, or whether they want to review my treatment, I’ll find out.

But despite the increased tiredness of the chemo I’m keeping active – which brings me back to the journey theme.

A good friend of mine runs something called the Expert Patient Programme for the NHS here in Leeds. It offers a range of courses for patients living with long term health issues, mental health problems and pain, and also for carers. The courses are to help people manage their conditions, providing them with practical coping techniques. Every few months there’s a gathering of people on current and past courses for a day of talks, discussion, sharing etc. I was invited to their recent event as a “mystery guest speaker”!  What an inspiring event it was, reminding me of the many tenant conferences I’ve attended: people with enthusiasm, commitment and a willingness to share, despite the severe adversities they have to face. The EPP is a genuinely empowering programme that’s giving patients practical tools and confidence to take back a bit of control in their lives. I chose journeying as the theme of my talk, billing it as A Tale of Two Journeys.

I began by talking about my Himalayan trek in March 2012. You’ll be glad to hear I didn’t inflict on them all 400+ slides I have of that trip. I focussed on the journeying aspects of it. Our high point was Gokyo Ri – a peak at 5200m above sea level commanding an astonishing view of the Everest range and much more. But to get there we had to endure snow, severe temperatures (-20c and lower) and the effects of altitude (a flight of stairs had to be taken very slowly to avoid breathlessness). I wanted to make the point that the journey – including the pain and severe discomfort – was part of the whole experience, and that our sense of achievement plus the awesomeness of the surroundings, was enhanced by this. I compared our experience with the story of the Everest View Hotel, built for rich Japanese and American tourists to experience views of this part of the Himalayas. (As its name suggests, it has a stunning view of Everest. We had tea on the terrace on a gloriously clear day, absorbing the view with eagles soaring overhead.)  It was built with an airstrip to bring the tourists in. But as it’s at a height of almost 4000m above sea level, despite oxygen being pumped into every room, many tourists suffered from altitude sickness through not going through a period of acclimatisation. Some died. Eventually the authorities closed the airstrip to passengers, so tourists now have to take the three-day trek (preferably with a day’s acclimatisation on the way) from Lukla airport. Maybe it’s my northern Methodist upbringing – but I’m sure they will get so much more from the experience on foot than in a helicopter.

I then spoke about my more recent journey through illness, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment, and drawing comparisons with the trek. I said that whilst I don’t welcome the pain, discomfort, despair, and loss of identity that comes with such an illness – I recognise that this is part of the journey I’m on, and only by embracing it can I keep positive and maintain the determination to get the most from the journey.  I tried to get across three things that have been important to me: that openness and giving helps – it seems to help others as well as me; the importance of accepting the ups and downs of the journey – the tough parts enrich the whole; and of course to do the things I want to do, that enrich my life, whilst I can.

 What I had to say seemed to resonate with peoples’ experiences, and afterwards I had the privilege of hearing of and learning from others’ journeys.  One 80-year old with now untreatable cancer spoke to me through tears about her despair, how she wakes up every morning thinking this might be her last day. Yet her family won’t let her speak openly of these fears: I was the first person she’d spoken to about it. It reinforced for me how lucky I am in being able to be open about my condition and my feelings, with positive responses from family and friends.

The idea of journey being as important as destination was illustrated beautifully by Jane and my recent Scottish rail experience. The romance and the excitement of the Caledonian Sleeper lived up to expectation, as did the stunning scenery from the West Highland Line. We had two wonderful days on the community-owned island of Eigg (as well as the island being community-owned, they are self-sufficient in renewable electricity with a mix of wind, hydro-electric and solar power) before the return rail journey to Leeds via the Carlisle–Settle line through the Yorkshire Dales. The trip being the journey made 5 ½ days seem like 2 weeks.

This break and a week in the Dales with friends, have been highlights of the recent part of my journey, which may or may not take a new direction following my appointment at the Christie tomorrow.

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The Joy of Living

I’m now in round 6 of chemo, and at that stage of the fortnightly cycle when I’m wondering why I voluntarily go into hospital feeling good to have chemicals put into me that make me feel crap! The tiredness seems to increase each round, and this time I’ve suffered from nausea. But other side-effects aren’t as bad as they were early on. My hair is still thinning though I’ve still got some left!

After this round I’ll be half way through the course. I’m trying not to count, partly because the chemo journey so far feels like a long one, so not yet being half way through isn’t much of a comfort.  I also know that if it is effective, then after a break at the end of this course I’ll be doing it again.  So I’m trying to accept the rhythms it creates as a part of my life.  My activities are also limited by having to be at home once a week to have the tube that is inserted into a vein in my arm flushed out – in addition to the hospital trips for the chemo.  But this Friday Jane and I are going on a 6-day rail-trip to Scotland. As part of that I’ll fulfil a long-term dream to travel on the Caledonian Sleeper – to breakfast travelling alongside Loch Lomond and over Rannoch Moor, to arrive just before 10.00am in Fort William. From there we go to Arisaig, then across to Eigg for two nights in a Yurt (which is one up from glamping I think)! We come back to Leeds via Carlise and Settle, thus taking in that wonderful Yorkshire Dales railway journey.

One of my inspirations in helping me get on with life is Ewan Maccoll’s song The Joy Of Living. I first heard it in 2001 on the Desert Island Discs of Peggy Seeger, who was married to Ewan Maccoll at the time of his death some 12 years earlier. Before telling you about the song, a brief diversion to tell you of the time I met the wonderful Peggy Seeger. In 1983 I was one of thousands of people who protested outside Parliament the day after American cruise missiles arrived in this country. I was also one of about 300 who were arrested that night (and charged under an archaic law brought in to protect Parliament from Chartists!). For those of us arrested that day CND organised some training on court procedures, how to defend ourselves, the possible consequences, etc. The Greater London Council gave CND the use of the courts at County Hall for the day……..ah, the days when local government was prepared to make a stand against unpopular government policies! In small groups, people role-played their defence with advice from supportive lawyers. Peggy Seeger was in my group, and she chose to sing her defence. I can’t remember the details of the song – but do remember it being a very moving moment. Incidentally, I was found not guilty as charged. Just in case you were wondering, I didn’t sing my defence; if I had the outcome may well have been different!

Ewan Maccoll wrote, performed and recorded The Joy of Living when he knew he was dying, and he’d realised he could no longer climb the fells he so loved. I feel fortunate to be (hopefully) a long way off that! In the months before his death often he wasn’t able to get through the song, with Peggy (who sings with him on the recording) having to complete it alone. His farewell to the things he held most dear is a simple song of nostalgia, and also of hope and joy. Being such a lover of the fells myself, it really touched me when I heard it, and I remember thinking back then that those are the sentiments I’d like to hold if ever I was in that situation (not that I ever thought back then that it would ever be the case). He sings farewell to those northern hills (of Scotland, the Lake District, Derbyshire and Snowdonia), to his wife Peggy, and to his children.

You can hear the song – with some beautiful images – at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sseyUtOvetA

 

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Matters of Life and Death

I’m now on my 5th chemo round, delayed for a couple of weeks because of a low white blood cell count (not a serious problem, more a precaution commonly taken during chemo). I also had a meeting with my Oncologist last Friday following my latest scan. I was reassured that some recent symptoms were still the effects of the surgery and not the cancer, and also that as far as they can tell, the chemo seems to have stabilised the growth of the tumours they can see on the scan. So this is better than if the chemo was not having an effect, though of course not as good as if it was reducing the tumours. As I’ve said before, the prognosis is difficult because of the lack of data for this type of cancer. But Dr Swinson offered me that he’d expect 50% of people with this diagnosis and treatment to live for 20 months after the start of the treatment. So make of that what you will. It’s easy to latch on to the 20 months bit – but of course this doesn’t mean that this is what I’ve got – or even expect. I’m planning for longer!

 

One thing we all have in common is that one day we will die. It’s the way of all life on this planet. Yet though we are the only species that know we are going to die, it’s not something we think about a lot, or indeed plan for very well. Understandably we go about our lives – our relationships, our work, planning our holidays, paying our rent or mortgages  – as if immortal.

My diagnosis has given me a very different perspective on death and on life, and on what’s important as I head from the latter to the former. Being confronted with the knowledge that death isn’t that far away is, in reality, to be confronted with the fact that I’m going to die, which of course is no different to anyone else. We are all heading for the same destination. As it was described to me recently, it’s as if someone suddenly put their foot hard on the accelerator of the vehicle that I’m journeying in through life. I’ll get to the same place I’ve always been heading for, only much faster! And that is what focuses the mind on things that previously I’d been happy to leave as fuzzy as possible.

“Living in the moment” is a concept that I’ve heard a lot of in various forms over the years. Once or twice I’ve thought I understood it’s meaning, but to be honest, I think I’d filed it away with a load of other probably meaningful stuff in the psycho-babble drawer of my brain’s filing cabinet. I now understand exactly what it means. This acceleration of the latter part of my life has helped me focus on what’s important, and that I must enjoy what I can whilst I can. And though it’s fine to reflect on what’s gone before in order to learn, we know we can’t ever change that. As for the future, we have to plan ahead in order to make things happen – but none of us know what might happen tomorrow, or next week, or next month. In terms of living, there really is only now.

And the sharper focus also means, literally and metaphorically, that colours are more vibrant, relationships are more meaningful, and events are more exciting. It has reminded me of that unforgettably painful but beautiful interview that Dennis Potter gave to Melvyn Bragg in 1994. He was in such pain he had to pause every so often for another shot of morphine, and he knew he only had weeks to live because of cancer. He described a plum tree outside his house where the recent blossom “ wasn’t just nice blossom”, it was “the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it.” He went on to say “Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn’t seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous……”. The photo is our apple blossom I’m looking at from my window.

I don’t want to give the impression that this is all a breeze, and that I feel lucky to have this opportunity of enlightenment and life-enhancement!  I have to work really hard to put aside the “this will probably be the last time that I……” thoughts, and I have overwhelming regrets sometimes at events and developments I know I’m not going to be able to witness. But it has enabled me to concentrate on doing the things I want to do, and not doing those things I don’t want to do.

So what of death? In itself it’s not something I have any fear of. I don’t believe there’s anything after this life – only what we’ve left behind for others to pick up and look at. I know many reading this blog will have other beliefs, and I can understand the comfort that must bring. But for me, I gain comfort from the belief that at the end the lights will go out and that will be that. What I do fear is what the last part of the journey might be like. There’s no point in dwelling too much on this – I can only hope that the accelerator will be pushed really hard to the floor for that bit.

 

In the meantime I will focus on the joy of living. I’ll write in my next blog of Ewan Maccoll’s song of that name – and a tangential story (very tangential I warn you) attached to it. I had a great (though wet) weekend in the Lakes this last weekend with Lhakpa Sherpa (who organised my trek last year) and other veteran Himalayan trekkers, on a fund-raising event for a Nepalese village. Weather permitting I’ll enjoy a day at the Headingley Test Match next Saturday, and Jane and I have our slightly mad Scottish rail trip coming up very soon. Sadly I didn’t get to see AFC Halifax Town’s momentous victory in the Conference South play-off final the other week!  Their recent history status and relationship with the top flight of football serves as a metaphor for the wider inequalities in society: I think I can feel another blog theme emerging!Image

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