Today was Friday. Work didn’t seem that important for a change. I didn’t get much done, there was a different rhythm to that of recent days, and I had the benefit of being at home for most of it. There were other pressing matters. The first diary date was a visit to the local hospital and their dermatology department. The result of a GP referral to check-out a couple of moles. My fault, I had shown them off at my last check-up. Pretty much the stuff of my age and stage of life. But, it was my first time of having such an appointment. I realise I’m at a dangerous age. And given how surrounded I have been by friends tackling the ‘big C’, there was that natural and understandable niggle, that annoying brain worm, that distracting thought that connected to all sorts of feelings and some dread.
The appointment was at 10am. The hospital is a short 10-minute walk away. So, I had plenty of time to have breakfast and get ready. Of course, I was ready sooner than I needed to be. I picked up one of my current books to fill the time. Sue Townsend’s ‘The public confessions of a middle-aged woman (aged 55¾)’. I never knew Sue but being a Leicester resident, I often used to see her in M&S, on the train, and in the local curry house. I stopped reading when the next chapter was entitled ‘Our Hospitals’. It felt like a sign. Time to go.
I picked up my ‘phone, popped in my Air pods, and grabbed my new book. Off I went, walking in time with the divine sounds of Liza Tarbuck (radio 2), which just happened to be Sister Sledge and ‘We Are Family’. A classic. Another sign I pondered.
After the inevitable confusion of navigating the metropolis that is the hospital, I arrived early at clinic three. I confirmed my COVID-19 status, sanitised my hands, registered, and sat down. I opened the new book, ‘Midpoint, Manhood, Midlife and Prostate Cancer’. So far, the book, seems to be all about the author’s relationship with his prostate and cancer treatment. I am wanting more about the mid-life. I might have to be patient. Pun intended.
But get this, bearing in mind I was sat in the waiting room of clinic three, the opening line, and I kid you not was… “I was sitting alone in examination room three”. The third sign of the day, I thought.
The examination was good. The outcome was that there was nothing to worry about. A great result. I was pleased. The consultant said it was just old age. ‘Just’ I thought. Easy for her to say, given she was in her thirties. She meant no harm. I remained gratefully silent.
I left the clinic, reconnected to Liza, and decided to walk into town to buy bread and have another breakfast – and why not? I went to the café I have visited for over 30 years. A true constant and a real pleasure in my life. I ordered my usual, poached eggs on toast, green tea, and a side of marmalade. Because the second slice of toast after the eggs are gone, deserve such attention! “Sorry, we have stopped serving marmalade” I was advised. Well, that capped it. Sign number four. I had read enough press articles informing me that marmalade was the preserve of older people. And what a day to be confronted with this reality. I did not complain. Next time, I will have marmalade in my bag – made expertly by my dear friend Christine. And no one will stop me from using it!