Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Fairy Rings


Made two calls to the police last night admitting that my car had been found. Spoke to a young woman at a police station somewhere and a man in a call centre. She said that people lose their cars all the time. He said he had once done it himself, and removed the report from their computer system.
My new friend Val whom I met during the horrors of the Victor Bonney Ward, told me she has had trouble finding hers. “They are all red,” she says, “and all look the same.”
She said that last winter she spent two “freezing hours” digging her car out of the snow, diligently scraping off the ice and scrubbing it down until she was blue - only for a neighbour to come out and ask her what she was doing as it was his car!”
Despite this, I still feel a real idiot.

Take a home made quiche along to Maggie’s as a contribution. There is a lunch there on a Friday. A convivial atmosphere, mainly from the ladies who give out information and generally buck everyone up.
The cancer sufferers gathered at the table were mostly more subdued. They included elegant women, many from Europe. They didn’t look as if they were ever great eaters and sat nibbling their food like little mice.
Not great eaters but they liked talking about food, as if it is the enemy. The main topic seemed to be the things they have forbidden themselves.
“I don’t have any dairy,” one says. “I’m lactose intolerant.”
“I don’t have any dairy,” says Maria, “But in the morning I have cereal with hot soya milk.”
She emphasised the “hot,” looking at me meaningfully. She had obviously read somewhere or been told, that hot milk is a cure for cancer. It isn't actually said, but that is what all these dietary privations are about.
“No sugar,” says another, “cancer feeds on sugar.”
This doesn't seem to include the new "super" jars of honey which are invested with almost magical powers and sold in health food shops at upwards of £15 a jar.
To try to get into the conversation I mentioned some research at Harvard Med School showing that cheese stops the formation of tumours in rats.
The woman next to me, a sensible Scots lass, says she eats most things and needs to eat food that prevents anaemia. I suggest liver having just seen some on Master Chef, looking delicious slathered in sage butter.
She frowns. “Liver is a secondary organ of the body,” she says knowingly. What does that mean? “All the bad stuff gets flushed through there,” she says. “It’s like chicken skin, it’s full of bacteria.”
There are only two men present, one about forty five and handsome, the other aged ninety. They are chatting and laughing and of course tucking in. The old boy had brought along chocolate brownies and Mr Kipling’s fruit pies. No one touched them. One of the women helpers brought a cream and lemon roulade, but it also sat untouched.
“Sugar,” whispers the Scots lady, the way some people would say, “cocaine.”
“Well they are girls,” says the good looking man, laughing.
Girls it seems, apart from all the other issues around food, are particularly susceptible to rumour. Their stories culled from the internet and women’s magazines remind me of the tales I used to hear when I lived in Poland in the time of the communists. People were living in fear, hungry for news but unable to get anything reliable to calm or confirm their fears. I came across the power of rumour again when I worked in a prison. Everyone was on edge, some living in dread and these stories, whispers in the dark, sometimes caused alarm but also bought comfort by confirming their view of the world and thereby giving some feeling of control.
I do it myself with superstitions.
On the way home I stopped off in Tesco and bought a Vogel loaf. Never done that before as I was always put off by the name, which sounds so Germanic, a cross between Wander-lust and yodelling. But the label said it contained valuable, life enhancing, health boosting seeds and oils.
At the automatic check-out the computer screen described it as “brown bread.”
Oh God – brown bread – dead. Not a good omen.

Got home to find two urgent calls left by the police. One from early in the morning the other sent at lunch time, telling me that they are busy looking for my car, and giving me a “crime number.”
Obviously no messages were passed on from last night. I wonder if the police are by chance related to the NHS?

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