An utterly marvellous weekend at the Burgh Island Hotel with Plum.
We chat about all sorts, wild swimming, the rise of Lidos, cancer and metastasis, her father who died from a glioblastoma.
We laugh, wonder which of the other guests the killer is, and where they’ve hidden the body, speculate on the relationships.
We eat beautiful meals, examine and exclaim and snap away at the Art Deco like Davina McCall on speed.
We drink Mermaids’ Kisses looking over the raging reefs towards Bantham.
I tell Plum my big fear:
Losing my mind.
The possibility of dying sooner rather than later, of there being no point in worrying about developing those chronic conditions of later life with which I am so professionally familiar, isn’t foremost, although I have considered that in a slightly detached way.
I don’t want to lose my mind.
We sleep with the windows open washed in ozone and the myriad sounds of the sea. If you’re by water, stop, close your eyes and just listen for as long as you can. There is no single sound, no permanently dominant noise but rather a soundscape map that you can follow with your ears as the water moves. Beneath the roar here, there are distant wafts of gentler soughing, tickles and tinkles, the champagne fizz of dissipating foam, a sudden boom as a wave crashes onto the reef and echoes around the mermaid pool cove.
What’s the origin of those crashing sounds? It’s air bubbles that form in rough water and which act as little bells, oscillating in suspension till they pop. Such a beautiful image, bells in the sea.
Plum’s also arranged a Sunday dip at Burgh (as if there were any more ways in which a friend could could be wonderful). Around 20 of our wild swimming crew arrive, and I’m able to tell those who don’t know about the tumour, chat, and watch as they frolic in the rough seas. I’d love to go in, but if I get knocked over I don’t have the confidence to know I’ll be able to recover. Best not take the risk today, when it feels that everything is metamorphosing around me.
We retire to the Pickwick Inn for lunch. I show the picture of the MRI scan to various people, and somehow the tumour has been named Hunt, after our less-than-esteemed Secretary of State for Health, he of Don’t be a Jeremy rhyming slang.
“Bugger Off Hunt!” I shout. There’s a period of hilarity as everyone joins in.
“Where is he in your head? Turn around, turn around I can’t see him!” Jackie – kind and gently glamorous mermaid wearer of flowers in her hair, is giving Hunt the nastiest evil eye I’ve ever seen.
“Hunt – out!”
This lunch, and the naming of Hunt with my dear swimmy friends, is where the point of it all crashed past me like the flood tide up the river Aune. Why me (why not someone else??) What for? What do I do?
What I do is blog. I start at once, and tell it like it is. If I do get good news, then brilliant. But it’s the now that I mustn’t lose. I’ll blog about our excellent NHS, which is here for me now, in one of the most difficult and tumultuous weeks of my life; the same NHS I worked for over the past ten years.
This government and the previous coalition are systematically destroying our NHS. They are privatising it, having never had one of those mandates that Hunt is so keen on for the massive NHS reorganisation they enforced in a cloud of inpenetrable legalise and without consultation, via the Health and Social Care Act 2012. They lie and spin, disconnect social and economic policies from their devastating results, absolve themselves of responsibility and instead attack the people who do the work, blaming every failure on greed, laziness and a lack of vocation.
What scares me most?
- Losing my mind
- Losing our NHS
- My brain tumour