I arrived home from hospital to an email telling me that the Breast Blog in the World is in the top 23 breast blogs of 2012 on the american website Healthline. I am honoured and chuffed. The best thing about it, for me, has been discovering the other 22 bloggers. They are clever, energetic, inspiring and varied. Some are anti-pink ribbon activists. They think a lot too much is spent on ‘raising awareness’ when funds should be pouring into research. Some are very sad. More than one of the blogs link to another activist blogger, Rachel’s site. Read her blog and you will want so much to meet her, but you can’t. She did not survive metastatic breast cancer and died at 41, just last February.
This is probably why so many writers choose not to be as jokey jokey as me. Seeking out any scraps of fun cancer may afford (on a good day) does not help eradicate the bastard. The truth is there, staring us in the face, unless we maintain seriously impenetrable filters. But then, sometimes I think, ‘for want of a joke, the reader was lost.’ Many readers get compassion fatigue. They just can’t take in too much seriousness or pain and end up zoning out.
Another come-down: Dennis is ill. He has a chest infection. The antibiotics he has been given are not making any difference. I hope the massive task of taking away my sin has not destabilised him. He is such a giver; it must be very draining. I have been typing up his book as fast as I can, as it will make him better to see his book in print. Tonight the whole family is going to type taking it in turns.
So I have been reminding myself that my post-op euphoria is all very well, but not very clevs. When things are going well, it is wise to regroup your armies, not let down your guard. Not go and behave drunkenly and stupidly like wot I am tempted to. Not break into that pack of medicinal marijuana someone popped in….;-)
So, practicalities. I am not allowed to lift anything (as this can exacerbate a lifelong condition called Lymphoedema which you get from having missing lymph nodes.) This leads to frustrating situations where, from my chair, I am trying to direct others to do what I would normally do. We were in the garden. Fattipuss turned up with a frog. A beautiful fat frog. ‘Quick, Fred, save it! Save it! Fattipuss will bite off its legs,’ I yelled, of course.
Fred is so laid-back that, to me in hyper-loon mode, he appears vexingly slow. I would have shot over there and had the frog free within around seven seconds. It took Fred seven seconds to realise that I had spoken to him. He looked up from his crossword.
‘Fred! Please, please, save the frog, the frog!’ I screamed.
Fred finished his clue, sighed and meandered over there. He crouched down and watched Fattipuss with the frog.
The parrots strutted outo their outside cage to watch proceedings. ‘Puss, puss, puss!’ called Kiki.
‘Take the cat away!’ I yelled. ‘Pick the cat up! Put him in the kitchen so he can’t get out!’
Eventually Fred put the cat in the kitchen, failing to shut the other door, so Fattipuss came straight out again. I gave up on Fred.
‘Alfie!’ I yelled. ‘Alfie, please come and shut the cat in the kitchen!’
‘Wot?’ asked Torro. ‘Wot?’
Alfie turned up all sleepy and duh-looking. He picked up the cat and put him in the kitchen. He forgot to shut the other door. The cat came straight out again.
‘Alfie!’ called Torro. He has a way of predicting people’s lines.
‘Alfie! The cat got out! Put the cat away again! Shut both doors this time! Duh!’
Alfie took the cat away again. Five seconds later, out came Fattipuss, heading towards the frog. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.
I was by this time hopping with frustration. You cannot control these people. They are too mellow for their own good. Fred was laughing and saying ‘That cat is so clever.’
‘He’s not clever! He came out of an open door three times! It’s you wot is mentally challenged. Aaargh, he’s going to get the frog!’
‘Nah, he’s forgotten all about the frog, he’s not going to bother with the frog.’ Fred picked up his crossword.
‘Of course he will! I know about cats: they never give up!’
Alfie said dismissively ‘Relax mandem! He’s bored of the frog. No way will he go after the frog.’
Fattipuss sprinted at the frog. The frog did a massive leap. They both went into the bushes.
‘Was I right? Say that I was right! I am always right! Say I am always right!’
‘I am always right,’ said Fred.
Went to Gin Club in Claire’s garden with the blokes. They all want to meet Miss Benyon but I have entered a possessive phase. ‘No, you can’t, she’s mine.’ LOL. Mad Lucy and I have decided to have a splinter gin group for ‘people with implants.’ He he. We will have our own mutual fakey boob admiration meetings.
One of the bladdicts wants to know the story of how we got the parrots. OK, if you bear with me I will reward you at the bottom with pictures of ‘Tabby escaping from the asylum’ and ‘Tabby having a hypo’.
Naughty. You are not meant to scroll down when I tell you things like that. You have to earn your Tabby pictures. Soon they will cost money.
Anyway…..it was Alfie’s seventh birthday coming up. He had said that he would really love a budgie, so I popped along to Thorley pet shop. They had budgies for £7.50 but they only had small cages and I was determined to get a big fuck-off cage so our budgie would be very happy. The Thorley people sent me to PetWorld in Harlow. There they had budgies but again, the cages were not big enough. They suggested BirdWorld on the M25. Off I went.
I entered the enormous warehouse and told some chap I was looking for a budgie. He’d obviously seen me coming a mile off.
‘What you want a budgie for?’ the man said. He took a three month old African Grey parrot out of its cage and said ‘Put your hand out.’
The bird blinked sleepily at me and stepped slowly onto my hand. His claws were warm and soft. His feathers were fluffy. I was entranced. He was just so sweet. I had what I would now recognise as a Miss Benyon moment.
‘Reared him from an egg, I did,’ the chap said. ‘You won’t find a better bird.’
‘Look, I just can’t,’ I protested weakly. ‘We have dogs who will rip him apart.’
‘Uh uh.’ The chap shook his head. ‘Look at this beak. No dog will go for a bird with a beak like this. Some of my customers’ birds ride the dog round the house.’
‘Do you have a big cage?’
He showed me the most enormous cages.
‘How much is he?’ I really thought he was going to say like thirty five quid or something.
‘Seven hundred quid. They do live for a hundred years though.’
You would think that I would have laughed at that point and walked away, but no. I phoned my neighbour and friend Meg who was about 85 at the time. (She is now 91!) ‘Oh wonderful!’ she exclaimed. ‘I had an African Grey as a child. They’re the cleverest, most entertaining birds of all. Ours was called Torro. Such a character. And no trouble.’
Then I phoned Fred. ‘I’ve found the most beautiful parrot, Fred. Only thing is, he’s seven hundred quid.’
Slight pause. ‘Yeah, alright, why not?’ said Fred.
Sigh. In those days, we had money….but no sense! Should have thought about saving up that seven hundred quid for Berklee College of Music. Still, at least I asked him so he could never say it was my fault.
So that is how Torro came to live at our house. He was happy but looked a bit lonely so few months later it was Fred’s birthday and the kids and I went back to BirdWorld and found Kiki. We put them in together and within minutes they were kissing. Aaah bleeesss. Barney came round and knocked up a really big cage in our kitchen. A few weeks later we said we wished the parrots could go outside. Barney just went outside, bashed the wall with a hammer, took out three bricks and built a cage on the outside of the wall as well. So the parrots have been going in and out as they like for seven years now.
So now you deserve your reward: a couple more gems for you from Tabby’s library of acting. Tabby has a bunch of fwends who we call her Stiletto Fwends. This is because they turn up in a big gaggle, navigate the paving stones and gravel in their stilettos, put on piles of makeup and false lashes and wobble off into town shrieking and laughing. One of the Stiletto Fwends is Alex, the daughter of my fwend Caz/Patsy. Alex took this photo of Tabby. It is called ‘Escape from the Asylum.’
This one is also taken by Alex. Thanks Alex! It is called ‘Tabby having a Hypo and Alex just loving the excuse to eat Wotsits in the middle of the night.’ Don’t know about you, but they both make me piss myself.