Sorry to be a little downbeat here but sometimes when you’re thinking about silly things like the timer on the oven not working properly or the fact that bread has gone up by 5p a loaf, something pulls you up short and puts a few things in perspective, and that happened today.
A friend of ours died this morning. He had leukaemia and had been unwell with it for over a year, but during that time he’d had an admirable and incredible stoicism and positivity about him. A month or so ago he was upbeat about the news that the NHS had received funding for his third bone marrow transplant. In spite of being told it only carried a 5% chance of success, it was a hope he wanted to cling to. However, he never became well enough again to actually have the operation.
I’m so glad that the last time I saw him was on a really beautiful day. Even though summer had long passed and the evenings were getting chilly and darker, that Saturday lunchtime when Mr SDS and I plus some other friends met him at a pub was like a Mediterranean July. It was so hot that we sat outside soaking up the sun, the ice melting in our drinks, and the back of my neck even got a little burnt. Our friend was in great spirits and, whilst a little weak physically, you’d be hard pushed to tell at first glance just how ill he really was.
This pub is in one of the more upmarket, touristy villages round here – ok, if I tell you that it’s owned by Marco Pierre White you’ll get the idea. There are pictures of MPW inside and apparently if you eat there you can go home with a postcard of him to put on your wall. Whoop de doo! We didn’t eat there. When we saw the drinks bill it was obvious we were paying a premium just to be served by somebody who might have wiped the bar with a cloth that MPW’s PA may once have touched. I think lunch for the six of us would have cost as much as that bone marrow transplant.
You could be forgiven for thinking that it was the price of the drinks that made our friend a little unsteady on his feet rather than his condition. In fact, when he ordered them, his speech was a little slurred too. Ever one for a mischievous comment he explained to the barman, “It’s ok – I’m not drunk! It’s just the drugs...”
I’ll remember him as a truly larger-than-life character – charming, funny and spontaneous, with a very real twinkle in his eye. He’d lived quite a rollercoaster life, full of experiences that most of us can only imagine.
We’re going to raise a big glass to him tonight - here at home. We’re not paying those pub prices again. Our friend would understand.
For MB, who loved Bowie