In Bandit Country
‘It is him.’
‘No it isn’t. It can’t be. What would he be doing here?’
‘I heard his name called on the tannoy.’
‘It must have been someone else with the same name.’
‘No, look, that’s him. Say something.’
‘No, you say something.’
I could hear all this from the couple seated in the oncology department waiting room, which has many colourful mosaic designs and finger paintings and notices that read: ‘Ludovic has terminal cancer but he’s not letting it get him down! He’s set off to climb every tall object in the world, then ride his mountain bike up Kilimanjaro!’ The result has all the forced cheerfulness of a dying child’s bedroom.
The couple were reading Bryant & May books and were extremely surprised to see me, a bit like running into your teacher in a supermarket and realising they eat. I chatted to them for a bit. They were lovely. As I left, I said ‘Hope to see you again’, then realised that it would be better for everyone involved if we didn’t.
I had just been to get the results of my scan, six months into an immunotherapy treatment so experimental in its particular usage that only a handful of NHS patients have ever had it. The treatment is continuing to hold my rogue cells at bay, and my results were better than last time. The husband, as blunt as only he can be, barked at the poor doctor, ‘So how long has he got?’
The truth is nobody knows. I’m in bandit country now, which at least means I can work on for a while. I celebrated by going for my fourth jab, effectively another booster, no queue, no appointment, walk in, short interview, job done. The whole process took 5 minutes.
So, I’m back at work on two more books. ‘Hot Water is out on March 1st. Busy editing and doing PR. I finished Michael Gilbert’s ‘Smallbone Deceased’, terrific fun, and am still reading Natasha Pulley, Malcolm Lowry (as punishment) and Alberto Manguel’s insightful ‘Fabulous Monsters’. That’s the state of play. Thought you should know.
My picture today is the happy place that’s trying to answer the conundrum; Is this my library or just a few bookshelves? It comes complete with geese (of course).