Game of Life – An Extra Go


Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs.

Last week was the appointment to see the oncologist about the scan results. In the main waiting room the television was still on BBC1, ‘Doctors’ on mute with subtitles. The bad news was we got called in quickly and missed the end of Doctors, the good news was everything had stabilised so Cyberspouse could carry on with the current chemotherapy. As he is still feeling fine, life carries on as normal, we can plan a few trips between the three weekly hospital visits. Have another throw of the dice.



Tales of Life and Death

 An elderly lady told me a story last week about her last surviving son-in-law. She was awake early expecting a sad phone call, her grandson had flown over from the USA to say goodbye. When he rushed into the hospital he found his father sitting up in bed eating  a bacon sandwich.

‘What had been wrong with him?’

Every now and then his lungs collapse and have to be re-inflated. This time they couldn’t blow them up again and there was no hope.

 Someone once told me his mother rang up and said Quick, come to the hospital, your gran’s better. After lying in a coma with everyone waiting for her to die, Granny had suddenly sat up in bed, started chatting and had a cup of tea. By the time her grandson arrived she had lapsed back and died soon after. At least she got to enjoy a last cup of tea.

In a previous incarnation, in a town far away, my friend was practice manager at our doctor’s surgery, a mutual friend’s husband was a self employed builder with heart trouble. She helped run the playgroup at a chilly scout hut near the doctors. I was also one of the helpers. Her husband was always popping in to help ( annoy ) us.

This particular morning he was doing work at the surgery. Our jolly morning with the children was interrupted by one of the receptionists from the doctors rushing in to say Bob’s having a heart attack.

In the meantime my poor friend the practice manager watched as the paramedics were trying to resuscitate Bob on her office floor. She maintained afterwards he was definitely dead.

The next morning the rest of us arrived at playgroup wondering if the news was the worst, but there was Bob sitting at one of the little tables, he hadn’t even stayed home for a bit of a lie in. Apparently at the hospital the paramedics were astonished to see him walking out of the hospital when they were on the way back to their ambulance…



The Game of Life – 22-1-19

Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs.


 The Waiting Game

General outpatients is a pleasant place, light colours, sometimes quiet, today busy. Our oncologist is here and not at the Jigsaw building because she is from the other hospital. A mute television with subtitles is playing afternoon programmes and we are just in time for Doctors! We already  know one result from last week’s scan, Cyberspouse had a couple of blood clots so will have to have daily injections for six months; a choice  between a district nurse and DIY propelled him to have a go and it’s quite simple.

We progress to the chairs outside the little rooms, all the chairs are full. As he has been well and eating well we are feeling positive and prepared to be positive whatever. Results are mixed, different chemotherapy, but as his health is good he can start immediately.

At the Jigsaw it is always jolly, the reception desk has a friendly greeting for everyone and the whole place is very calm, we never seem to wait long. Each patient has their own bay with low walls, there is background music.



The Retirement Game

Life goes on for Cyberspouse much the same as it has since he retired not that long ago, recycled teenager days. Out with the chaps or out and about with other couples ( the cosy world that not all get to enjoy ). Can you spend a whole day  at Ikea? Yes. ‘Did you get the two for one voucher for fish and chips?’ Yes…



The Number Game

Everybody seems to be talking about the nineties, not the 1990’s but the tenth decade that some reach. My mother is the same age as The Queen, though she doesn’t get out and about as much, her mind and hearing are as sharp as Her Majesty’s. A lot of bloggers have been talking about their mothers of a similar age, my friend is a full time carer for hers. On our RVS Books on Wheels round we have four visits, five very different folk but all in their tenth decade. Mr. and Mrs are in a tiny retirement flat, different taste in books. Our next lady reads a book a day; we take twenty library books every three weeks and she only likes murder mystery. She lives by herself, has had times in hospitals, but ignored their warnings of dire consequences if she didn’t have this or that done and in her early nineties has outlived a daughter and a son-in-law.  She says she is never lonely, happy by herself. Our gentleman lives in a nursing home, the sort made of houses stuck together, where you fall down sloping corridors and trip where the houses have been joined up, but the staff are friendly, it feels homely. He is completely blind and has talking books, always has a story to tell about when he was a barrister in the House of Lords. This week one of the staff told us he had gone downhill since Christmas, not because of shingles, but because a clairvoyant once told him he would die when he was 96, his age now. For a very educated man this seems odd, but when we see him he has certainly changed.


Ninety Seven is the age of the Duke of Edinburgh, in the news this week, knocking Brexit off the agenda for a few hours, after his miraculous escape unhurt after a car crash. Not on the Sandringham estate, but out on a busy A road. A little while back when Cyberspouse was in Windsor, strolling up the Long Walk with his camera near the castle, along came a carriage and fine black horses driven by the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke called out ‘Can’t you find anything better to bloody photograph?’ Cyberspouse replied that he was only snapping the horses.  The girl grooms on the back laughed. When I heard the story I was surprised the duke was still carriage driving, while other people of his age are on their mobility scooters or housebound,  it seems he does not intend to stop driving of any sort yet. There has been fervoured discussion as to what age people should be compelled to give up; whatever the cause of the accident, it was every parent’s and grandparent’s nightmare as there was a baby in the back of the other car, luckily unhurt. Public indignation increased when a new Landrover was delivered the next day ( a gift perhaps, as the publicity was a gift to Landrover, how safe the vehicle must be to roll over and not harm the driver ) the duke was soon driving again and being cautioned by the police for not wearing a seat belt. For some, life goes on…



The Game of Life

Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs.

Round Three – Coffee with Dinosaurs

It’s Good to Talk.

I had an uncle who was always talking about cancer, before and after his retirement. In the company magazine he would read of ex colleagues and their demise, he would meet people out walking the dog and hear about which bits they’d had removed. He would recall a friend coming out from his hospital appointment saying ‘That’s it Roy, I’m a gonner, if I was a dog they’d have me put down.’

A friend’s father died of a ‘trapped nerve’.

Another friend’s brother, still young, could do little but lie on the floor in pain, but ‘they couldn’t tell him he had terminal cancer, he couldn’t take it.’

I’ve always thought one should know everything and tell others what’s going on. Then get every pain killer available.

I can’t remember not being aware of cancer. My grandmother died of bowel cancer aged 56, a year after my grandfather died suddenly. He had been very happy, having a little grandchild ( me ) and his wife home from hospital after a successful operation for her cancer… then he dropped dead, out early in the game of life. This is the story I heard from my mother; she saw my grandmother getting undressed and was shocked to see lumps on her body, the cancer had returned. Mum asked why she hadn’t gone back to the doctors. She had ‘given up’ after my grandfather died. But Bowel cancer couldn’t be cured back then anyway.

Little Rooms

Hospitals are full of little rooms with people sitting outside waiting to go in them.

At the beginning Cyberspouse was at the hospital for tests and when he was taken in the little room, he knew it wasn’t good. When all the tests were finished we sat outside the oncologist’s little room and watched the Macmillan nurse and the other nurse go in first, then we waited… ‘Mustn’t forget to turn our phones off,’ I said ‘don’t want to get in trouble in the head master’s office…’

Ironically it was the doctor’s phone that went off, just as we were getting to the crucial bit!

Next we went in another little room with the Macmillan nurse, cosy armchairs and a coffee table with teapot and cups on a tray – but they were empty, just for show.

Hospital, Tesco and Dinosaurs

We can get to the hospital cycling, walking, two buses or drive, but the car park always looks busy. Easier to park in the big Tesco as long as you won’t be more than three hours, or you can park down the lane that leads to the golf course.

We have walked to the hospital several times, a pleasant 50 minute walk on a sunny autumn day. That day it was raining and we had to be there at ten past nine. We had already decided we would go to the golf club house for coffee afterwards as we had parked in the lane. On the way, Cyberspouse spotted a twenty pence piece on the ground. ‘That was lucky’ I said.

We had heard about the dinosaur crazy golf; as we wound our way down the lane they came into sight, real large dinosaurs which moved, right in front of the clubhouse. A surreal end to a surreal morning. This was really crazy golf. Perhaps professional golfers should try dinosaur golf, it would make it more interesting on television.

The Game of Life

Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs.

Round Two  – Word from Dagenham.


Reasons to be cheerful.

  1. So far this is better than a sudden death, time to prepare, hope instead of shock.
  2. Cyberspouse had thirty years in the Metropolitan Police without being murdered on duty and collected his pension; like most officers, collecting some of it as a lump sum to make the most of it just in case…
  3. It follows on from no. 2 that you can’t be bitter at something that is nobody’s fault.
  4. There are no definites; even though your friends have lost other friends in the past year, they reassure you that they know numerous people who have been living with terminal cancer for years.
  5. We have been absorbed into what seems to be a very caring game, with a lot of people playing. Those suffering more obscure medical disasters would not get the same wrap around treatment.

Tales of birth and death.

One set of grandparents only met me and not their following five grandchildren. I don’t remember them.

My other grandfather lived long enough to know I was marrying a policeman; having lived through the depression he was so delighted it was a chap with a secure job. He has turned out to be right!

My other grandmother lived long enough to meet her first great grandchild and literally dropped dead at 82. At the time this seemed old, now I actually have friends that age!

Our friend’s father was dying of a brain tumour as his wife was about to have their first baby. When he was born they got special permission for the baby’s father and grandmother to take him from London to Bristol to meet his grandfather. He saw his grandson, uttered his last words and was dead by the next morning. This story has always chilled me because I don’t think I could have let my newborn baby out of my sight!



Why is it called the jigsaw building? I have no idea, but it is very nice; free treatment with our National Health Service ( after a lifetime of contributions ), added comforts from a charity which we have contributed to. A friend used to arrange Pink Promenades along the sea front, from Hengistbury Head to Sandbanks and back again, a walk of 14-16 miles; lunch at the Jazz Cafe, coffee and tea at Bournemouth Pier then back to her house for fish and chips with the husbands. We didn’t collect money from others, just put in a contribution for a very pleasant day out.

Perhaps it’s called Jigsaw as they take you to pieces and can’t put you back together again.

Cyberspouse’s friend sent a message, he had word from Dagenham, he was going on the 13th November to collect his new car, the first day of chemotherapy. No outing for C.

All went well, we gathered 21 days worth of tablets and as I waited outside to flag down our lift from a friend had I found the answer to the puzzle?

Completing the Picture

At least the jigsaw has been blessed by the bishop. Move forward one space.




Tuesday Tiny Tale 500 – The Unkindest Cut

‘Have you self harmed before Mr. Andrews?’

‘What? … ow!’

‘Local anaesthetic, please keep still while I do the sutures. Would you like to talk to someone?’

‘Talk to who? I just need to be sewn up and get home’ I pleaded.

Shock was beginning to set in and I couldn’t take in what the young woman doctor was saying. I looked at the clock on the wall.

‘I think I left the gas on.’

She frowned. ‘Gas as well and yet at the last moment you didn’t go through with it, that’s good, but you need to speak with one of our counsellors.’

‘Look, embarrassing as it is, I’m a doctor too…’

‘No need to be ashamed, statistically doctors are more likely to attempt suicide and more likely to succeed.’

I sat up straight, knocking the tray of equipment.

‘No, no, this was an accident. I’ve done that course, Thinking About Mental Health… I work in this department, you must be new?’

‘Four weeks.’

‘In four months time the only mental health you’ll be thinking about is your own, thanks you for your concern but…’

‘I am concerned there could be nerve damage Doctor Andrews, we need to refer you for further treatment.’

‘The only damage to my nerves will be my wife’s reaction when I get home, how can I explain this was all the pumpkin’s fault?’


It all started last week when the children were pestering us. They ‘needed’ Halloween costumes and rubber spiders etc. The advantage of being older parents? We have enough sense not to be sucked into blatant commercialism. No trick or treat, no ghost masks. My wife suggested the All Hallows’ Eve Festival of Light at the local church, being held to counter commercial exploitation of children, or was it to pray for deliverance from evil? Either way I did not want to spend my precious day off going to church, so I promised a surprise and tasty supper on their return.


Late this afternoon pumpkins were being sold off cheap at the greengrocers and I had it all planned. A circle of happy pumpkin faces dangling from the trees in the front garden, pumpkin soup recipe off the internet.

The first two orange heads were impressive, the third a bit tough, but the soup smelt nice. The fourth pumpkin was impenetrable, sharper knife and more force needed.

Purlicue… thena web… that piece of loose skin betwixt thumb and forefinger. I didn’t feel any pain as the knife sliced straight through… my energetic attack on the pumpkin meant the force carried the blade straight on down my palm and left wrist before my right hand thought to drop the knife. Blood spurted everywhere as I tried to tie a makeshift bandage with one hand and my teeth.

Now I looked again at the clock in the cubicle. My family were about to arrive home to a burnt out saucepan, a vivid trail of blood and no sign of me.