Writer, researcher, music lover, cancer survivor, optimist, Buddhist.

Category: My Non-cancery Life (Page 1 of 4)

National Television Awards 2021 – or, I’m not crying, you’re crying

After a long week at work, I’ve had the most glorious afternoon catching up with the National Television Awards (NTAs), which took place last night. I was out last night, otherwise I would have watched it live, so instead I decided to treat myself to pizza for lunch and curl up under a blanket, watching with rapture. And it was wonderful.

I mainly decided to watch it because I knew Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin was nominated in the New Drama category, and I absolutely loved that show. I watched it in two or three sittings on demand before it was all broadcast, and then I watched almost every episode as they were shown on Channel 4 as well. And I cried almost all the way through. Then I saw the clips of a couple of episodes on Gogglebox and cried watching them for the third time. And I don’t know if it’s because of the menopause or because I’m an emotional person anyway, but the entire NTAs had a similar effect.

I do like a good award show, when I am familiar with most of the nominees and invested in a couple of them. So many of my favourites won – Mollie Gallagher in Coronation Street for starters, whose hate crime storyline was so good and felt quite close to home for this former goth/greb/emo kid. And little Jude Riordan for best newcomer, again for Corrie – he’s so adorable and a great actor. And Coronation Street itself won best serial. I say I don’t watch a lot of TV – I’m not really up to date with whatever new thing is popular most of the time, and I often don’t follow up on recommendations people give me. But I watch Corrie every episode without fail. It’s like coming home and escaping elsewhere all at once. It’s a comfort blanket.

I was pleased to see It’s A Sin win New Drama, and was hopeful when Olly Alexander was nominated for his performance – but also pleased when David Tennant won for his performance in Des. He’s one of my faves. Beat The Chasers won best quiz gameshow, The Great British Bake Off picked up best challenge show, Gogglebox best factual, and Ant and Dec won The Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award for I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! as well as their 20th award for best TV presenter. All fairly unsurprising, really, but all my favourites so I was very pleased. Seeing Kate Garraway win best authored documentary for Finding Derek was emotional for obvious reasons even though I haven’t watched it, and I think the topic of that documentary is part of the reason why it all felt so emotional. Because it wasn’t just any award show – it was an award show in the context of over a year of events and shows not happening in person. It was a celebration of the programmes that distracted us when our worlds as we knew them were falling apart. And I suppose there are people who think staring at a box in the corner is mind-numbing, time wasting, pointless, and we should all be reading or climbing trees or something. But when an art form – and TV is an art form – makes us feel this much, and entertains us, distracts us, introduces us to new experiences, and informs us – that’s not an easy thing for any creative to do, and it’s worth something. In fact, it’s worth a hell of a lot.

This time of year makes me excited for television. Bake Off is coming back, I’m A Celeb will be on in a couple of months, and with it, the promise of Christmas. Winter is coming, and along with it, dark and cosy nights, great television, and comfort. It’s partly this feeling that made me so emotional watching the awards today. That, and I just love seeing people do things they are passionate about and be rewarded for it. And did I mention it’s been a really long week? But this was the perfect way to close it.

Mr Postman / Mr Sandman

In light of the news this morning that clinically extremely vulnerable people will start to get their letters this week inviting them to get the covid vaccine, I wrote this little parody – to the tune of Mr Sandman, of course:

Mr postman, bring me a dream (bom, bom, bom, bom)
Make it an invite for the covid vaccine (bom, bom, bom, bom)
Say it will reduce my risk of exposure (bom, bom, bom, bom)
And that the pandemic will soon be over

Postman, I’m vulnerable (bom, bom, bom, bom)
And all this shielding can feel miserable (bom, bom, bom, bom)
Please help me get the vaccine
Mr Postman bring me a dream

Bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom,
bom bom bom bom bom!

My Goals For 2021

I’m slightly late with it, but it’s that time of year when I get all introspective and retrospective and all the spectives, really, and think about what I achieved in the last year and what I’d like to achieve next year/this year. It’s been difficult to get into that headspace this year – even though the time between Christmas and new year is usually my most productive and thoughtful time, it hasn’t come naturally, probably because – well, look at the state of this year.

Regardless, I’d like to have a little think about it, look at my previous goals and set some new ones. So this is what I said I wanted to achieve in 2020:

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31st December 2020

standing at the back door accommodating
winter in gusts, the clear sharp moon in my throat
and my friends on a screen on my coffee table
but I can’t hear them over the bangs and they
have left their seats already to watch their own
displays. I had run upstairs with Peter and counted
again, at least eight of them, like I did on November 5th.
It’s the first year I didn’t hear a countdown – I always
forget the Hootenanny ignores the coming of the
new year, carries on, and the TV was muted anyway,
but this time, with just the two of us in the house,
at least in flesh, we did not count but we did kiss late
and the bang and crack and light that had been going on
since daylight now overtook the house, everyone’s house
as our web conference brought six of us together in stereo.
Amidst the madness I was grateful for the fireworks blurring
one year into the next because the expectation would have
been too much weight to place on one count, on ten numbers
standing separate and fragile, so instead the community
decided we would have a gradual bringing in of cheer, a blurring
of time, as it had been all year, and watching all the displays from
the back door, the clear sharp moon in my throat made me hopeful,
each blast of light and sound proving that despite everything,
so many of us were standing upright on this earth
and celebrating, still finding some glimmer of joy or hope
and throwing it in the air like a penny in a fountain.

The silence isn’t broken, it’s fractured

I accidentally extended my own lockdown by fracturing my ankle so now moving off the couch to go anywhere is a hassle slightly reminiscent of recovering from cancer surgery. It hurts less than it did a week ago, though.

Hi! It’s been ages, hasn’t it, but at the same time it’s hard to tell because the world is on fire.

I’m going to be on my local radio station on Friday night, around 7.40pm on BBC Northampton, reading part of a lyric essay and talking about writing and my piece, which of course is about my usual subject.

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New Year Reflections – 2019/2020

It’s the time of year when I normally get very introspective (yes, more so than usual) and productive with my writing, and these two things mean I write something about what I’ve done this year and what I want to achieve next year. But having had cancer not so long ago makes that tricky – and the expectations I have for myself that it shouldn’t be tricky, make it trickier. Are you with me?

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Life and Work and Family and Trees

All the leaves are changing and nothing is changing and maybe everything is changing. My mother sings California Dreaming while she stands smoking at the kitchen window, just the first two lines, nothing more, she doesn’t know the rest – sometimes softly to herself, sometimes with vigour, with an excitement about the sky being grey, whether or not it really is. Sometimes I look in the mirror or catch my own mannerisms, think about my ways, and realise I am becoming her a little and I love it. I talk like my dad. I tell people to pack it in and stop mithering and find myself repeating sayings I assume are a bit northern and explaining it away with as my dad would say. My family is the best family to ever exist and we don’t need to be perfect because nobody is – I can only emulate the best people I know, and they are the best people I could emulate because they never left. Others left and said they had come back but they haven’t, not really.

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Keane, Babies, PhD – Excitement, Sadness, Anxiety

A bit of a life update this morning. I went to bed on Thursday night feeling fine and woke up the next morning feeling anxious without really knowing why and it sort of stuck with me all day. I think it’s partly because I was worried about my teeth. Every couple of years my wisdom tooth has a bit of a move about and the gum gets infected so I go to the dentist and he gives me antibiotics and says if it keeps causing a problem it will need to be taken out under general anaesthetic. So this happened again the other day so I got antibiotics but the dentist also said that because I’m on alendronic acid (to prevent osteoporosis because I can’t go on HRT for the menopause because of the cancer risk), he wouldn’t want to take any of my teeth out because AA might make it take a long time to heal up. So that was me jumping to worst case scenario of having my wisdom tooth out and suffering with it. Typical of it to flare up as soon as I go on AA. But I looked online (not always recommended, really) and found some people saying they had teeth out while on AA and it was all fine. So I feel better about it now.

I had a dream last night that my CT scan results came back (I had the scan three weeks ago) and by some miracle I was pregnant. We were worried about losing the baby because of my surgery but we were excited. In my dream I got some counselling at my gynae checkup too, asking what was on my mind and stuff. That was before someone rushed in with the scan results (which I thought showed the cancer was back because of how she ran in with them). And before that, I had a dream I was playing with someone else’s baby. He was very smiley and didn’t cry and I think I might have been his favourite out of everyone in the room. My grandad was there too, as he sometimes randomly appears in my dreams despite no longer being with us, and he said “you’ll be wanting one of those of your own soon”. Nobody bothered to correct him.

Feelings around being childless and having a hysterectomy are quite complicated. I think I’d like something good to happen to me medically. I’d like me and my partner to go to my parents’ house to tell them something big that isn’t how I have cancer again, but something good. I would like to feel like other people. I would like to feel like I’m having a normal, big experience. I’d like to be counted as a mother in the general population. I’d like to be pregnant and excited and understand and enjoy the experience. I’d like to have a tiny human to look after. I feel so alienated from people around me who haven’t had cancer – I don’t have any “cancer friends”. Having a baby is among the things I want that I thought I would have in my life but haven’t yet. I want a baby, I want to get married, I want to own a house. I just want to be a normal grown up.

I got a lot done yesterday. I booked our flights to Florida for next year, and I got Keane tickets for me and my mum. I tried to get them during the presale on Wednesday but they sold out within two minutes, so I’m glad I managed to get them yesterday.

And the big news I haven’t mentioned is that I got accepted to study for my PhD at Teesside University! I’ll be doing it at a distance, researching the role of poetry in psycho-oncology. I want to find out how writing poetry can help cancer survivors in remission to work through fear of recurrence, health anxiety and other related feelings.

So, good things are happening even if they aren’t the big things I’m still waiting for or might never have. When life doesn’t give you any luck, you have to create it for yourself. And most of it isn’t luck, it’s work. Good thing I like making things happen for myself.

New Year 2019

I would like to write something positive about what a great year 2018 has been and how I have so many resolutions for 2019. But I had cancer twice last year so obviously it was horrendous, not great, and I’d quite like to see exactly how that is going to fuck me up psychologically before I commit to performing great acts in 2019. Plus, there’s the chemo thing to wait and see for.

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Florida feeling

The other day I tweeted about trying to be mindful while I am on holiday. I’m in my favourite place in the world, Orlando, Florida, and I know that when I get home my two week holiday is going to feel like a distant memory. When I have gotten home after a holiday in the past, I have felt unhappy to not still be here, and wondered if I appreciated it while I was here. Did I stop and look around enough? Did I take stock of where I was? Did I stop racing around and think about where I was, look at the trees, get up early and enjoy the quiet, listen to all the sounds – the crickets, the park music? Did I smell all the smells – the food, the weirdly sweet smell of the air, the clean smell of the hotel room? Did I appreciate the hot weather, then coming in to the air conditioning? Did I use my time off work to my full advantage?

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