Monday, 15 September 2008

18. Hospice days

I’m in the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead. In one of the new rooms. Tastefully decorated in my favourite shade of beige, and complete with excellent room service and hot and cold running drugs of your choice. As a connoisseur of fine hospital rooms, let me tell you this competes with the best of them. And there’s no charge for it. The hospice and all its support activities are a third funded by the NHS, the rest by voluntary donations. Amazing.

Admittedly, the food isn’t all that great but, hey, there’s a microwave oven down the corridor and my diet nowadays consists increasingly of powdered food supplements. These do not require great culinary skills. Just add water or milk for a refreshing drink in any of three flavours: strawberry, banana and wall paper paste. Personally, I prefer the strawberry in the mornings, while the evenings go better with glue.

Oh – and I do have a gripe about the television, an airline type monitor which is difficult to operate before you get your engineering degree. It takes four separate operations just to turn it on, then another eight before you can switch from television to radio. The decision to install it for doped up cancer patients was genuinely brave.

I am here to try to sort out my pain relief. I need to work out a drugs regime that won’t render me unconscious for most to the day. Morphine is very effective in stopping your suffering but it’s also effective in stopping everything else. So I need to establish a balance between taking drugs, eating, sleeping, and going to parties – and you all know how tricky that can be. Also, I had better throw in the necessity to keep up this blog, as my silence on this site has led to (tiny) howls of protest from around the globe.

So, over the next few days I will try to update you all. But first I’ll finish the bit I was writing about the new cat. Ah yes, the cat.
The top part of her face is deepest black, the bottom half brilliant white. Like two halves of a cat stuck together. It makes her difficult to photograph – plays havoc with the autofocus.
We didn’t get her from Cat Woman - as we feared that Cat Woman might move in too. Alison down the road kindly promised to feed both of them if necessary – but we thought that would be pushing it. So we went to the RSPCA where we found eight cats with social issues hanging from the tattered curtains of a front room in Stanmore. Rosey seemed slightly less flakey than the others.

We decided on the name Rosey because post-ironic names for pets simply don’t work. My nephew, James, called his cat Morrissey, which seemed cute until he had to go round the neighbourhood calling out the name, and heaven knows he’s miserable now.
In her own mildly demented way, Rosey can hardly believe her luck. Her improved postal code has propelled her into middle class luxury, complete with daily choice of cat food (wet or dry madam?) and a beautiful fleece-lined bed, which she doesn’t use because it’s cosier to sleep behind the washing machine. She spends most of her day skidding across the floor assaulting imaginary objects. Her speciality is the surprise attack on slow-moving shoes.

I’d like to get home before she turns into a fully-fledged terrorist but I’m not sure how long I’ll stay here. It feels very comfortable and safe, but communications are a problem. The mobile phone signal is very variable and internet access is by mobile dial-up which is v..e..r..y slow. It’ll take ages just to upload this.