Tuesday, 12 August 2008

9. In the middle of the night

In the middle of the night I woke up worried that this blog lacks dramatic tension. You see, I’ve read other cancer diarists and been struck by the fact that their narratives have all been motivated by a central thread - they all believed they were going to be cured (or at least live a long time). But not me. Redemption was never on offer. The outcome was pre-written from the start. I need a dramatic infusion.

So here’s a thought. In a more exciting world, not the dull grey one of blood tests and CT scans, I would surely have glimpsed somebody from the corner of my eye. He would have appeared during one of those gloomy hospital visits, while the doctors were trawling through my notes casually delivering the latest piece of bad news. He'd have been a shadowy figure in the background, a dark spectre maybe, in a hood with a scythe.

In Ingmar Bergman’s film, the Seventh Seal, a mediaeval knight returning from the Crusades challenges such a figure to an epic game of chess. If he wins, his life is saved. Good idea. I will offer something similar. But with Scrabble. I mean, I’m not bad at chess but I think my Scrabble chums will agree that when it comes to seven-letter words I’m virtually a legend. Death defeated by multiple anagrams. I am issuing the challenge.

Most of this blog is written in the sleepless hours of the night. I write far more than I publish. In the cold hard daylight I see what I’ve written and edit it, always cutting it at least in half. This is the bit you get. The nightmare I keep.